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Identity Theft Doesn’t Just Happen To Other People

Here’s another interesting fact: most thieves still obtain our information the old-fashioned way, so keep an eye on your wallet and take cautionary measures with your snail (i.e., paper) mail. Remember it’s actually tougher offline without the spyware programs and password/security question protections we’ve come to expect on the web.

Like it or not, we all need to be consistently vigilant in our efforts to protect ourselves and our families, especially as these cyber and offline ID thieves are constantly finding new ways to take advantage of us. So, no matter how hectic our lives are, no matter how much of a rush we’re in, we should all keep these tips top-of mind on a daily basis. Furthermore, we urge you to share them with everyone you know.

1. Protect your Social Security number and keep it sacred. If your medical insurance or another account holder uses it as your ID number, ask to get it changed.

2. Don’t get caught in the ‘phishing’ net. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. An old adage, but so true in this day and age when scammers “phish” for victims by pretending to be financial institutions, government offices or other official organizations. Whether on the phone or online, don’t give out your personal information unless you initiated contact and, please, don’t verify full account numbers and passwords.

3. Shred papers with personal information before you throw them away. That includes credit card offers and convenience checks that you’re not going to use.

4. Be careful who gets to share your personal financial information. Read the fine print and opt out of information sharing (i.e., with affiliates …).

5. Protect the information on your PC. Use strong passwords that should be difficult to crack.

6. Practice safe shopping. Know how to insure that the site you are using is secure and uses encryption.

7. Stop pre-approved credit offers.

8. Ask questions, especially when they ask for personal information. Know why they want to share it and with whom.

9. Check your credit reports (for free).

Always remember reputable companies and banks will not ask you for personal information online.

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