10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

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  1. Watch the watchers: Whenever in public you enter a card PIN or a credit card number on a screen or keyboard, make sure that no one is paying close attention to what you are doing.
  2. Shred it!: Before you toss into the trash important printed documents, specifically ones that contain personal financial information about yourself and/or your family or business, make sure those documents are shredded. It is not impossible someone could dig through your trash to find important information that could be used.
  3. Check those statements: At least once a week you should check the balances on all your bank and credit card accounts. Better yet, check them once a day. This way you will stay informed about all charges on your accounts, and this will help you watch for anyone using your accounts without your permission.
  4. Check your mail: Every day you should empty your mailbox. Do not let mail build up in your mailbox, nor sit there for very long. Often your mail, even that which is unsolicited, will contain financial or personal information about you. The longer that mail sits in your mailbox, the more chance there is someone will come along and take your mail. You do not want that to happen.
  5. Don’t leave receipts: Paper receipts from gas stations, stores, restaurants and other establishments often times contain information about your credit card for bank accounts. Don’t leave those receipts behind at the stores or restaurants, and don’t just haphazardly drop them into a public trash can. Even if full information is not available on those receipts, slick crooks can take partial information and use it to their benefit.
  6. Keep an eye on your cards: When you are using your credit, debit and bank cards in public, try to keep a watch on your card at all times. Sometimes you have to hand over your card to a clerk or server, but try to watch where they take the card and what they do with it. More than likely they are an honest person, but some identity thieves only need a card for a few seconds to make use of it; they could either quickly write down the information on the card, or they could skim it into a machine which will record the information.
  7. Pay in cash: Yes, paying in cash might seem old fashioned, but it is one of the best deterrents against identity theft. There are no numbers to steal, no information to grab. Cash is the safest. Remember it.
  8. Check your credit report: At least once a year, make sure to get a copy of your credit report and look it over quite well. Your credit report will reveal a lot of information, so make sure what you know about your finances matches your report.
  9. No phones: Do not ever give out personal or financial information about yourself over the phone. You do not know for sure who you are talking to. Just because a person on a call tells you they are a representative of a company does not make it true. Also, there are a lot of scammers who work over phones nowadays, so be careful.
  10. Cancel and cut: If your purse or wallet contains old credit or bank cards or cards that you never use, get rid of those cards. They are just sitting there waiting for someone to steal them or use the information off of them. Take those old cards and shred them before trashing them.

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