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PREVENTING IDENTITY THEFT

Identity theft continues to be a growing problem. The following safeguards will help you protect your identity.

  • Shred all statements, documents and mail that contains personal information.
  • Do not let mail sit unattended in a mailbox for extended periods.
  • Mail payments from the post office or other secure location.
  • Do not carry your social security card and do not display your social security number on checks or forms of identification.
  • Never leave ATM, credit card, debit card or gas receipts behind.
  • Never let your credit or debit card out of your sight. The number can be skimmed by waiters or other workers who take your card to another location.
  • Beware of callers asking for your identity or financial information.
  • Register with the national Do Not Call registry toll free at 888-382-1222.
  • Review the privacy policy of companies that require your social security number or other personal information.
  • Do not save your credit or debit card information on any websites.
  • Monitor your credit report. You are eligible for a free annual credit report from each of the major reporting bureaus. www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Review your credit card statements for fraud or unauthorized activity.
  • Close credit cards that you don’t need or use.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft can also occur by using a child’s personal identifying information for such things as obtaining credit, utilities, employment or to avoid arrest and criminal prosecution.

Many school forms require personal, and sometimes, sensitive information. Ask how your child’s information is collected, used, stored and thrown away. Your child’s personal information is protected by law. If you think your child’s information is at risk, check whether your child has a credit report. You should always do this when your child turns 16 so you will have time to correct it before your child applies for a job, a student loan, a car loan, or needs to rent an apartment.

Teach your child about computer security by watching out for free games, ring tones or other downloads that can hide malware. Also teach them not to share files and passwords with their friends or to respond to texts, emails or pop-up messages that ask for personal information. Educate your children at any early age so they learn how to safeguard their identity. Help them understand that internet activity is not always what it seems.

If you suspect identity theft, take the following action

  • Notify your financial institution.
  • Notify your creditors.
  • File a police report.
  • Obtain a copy of the police report.
  • Keep records of all correspondence or actions you took regarding the identity theft.
  • Don’t let your credit be ruined. Request a fraud alert be placed with each of the credit reporting agencies so you will be notified of new accounts or changes made to existing accounts. Credit Bureau phone numbers