Posted by Frugal on May 13th, 2006
Identity thefts has been on the rise, because of its ease and its potential “return” on theft. If you think from the perspective of a thief, it is much safer to steal your mails, rather than intruding your homes. But the potential “returns” go beyond your household items. The thief can simply buy the stuffs that he or she really wants or make a mortgage loan ON YOUR CREDIT.
What are the things that one can do to prevent ID thefts? Here is what I consider the most effective methods:
- Never give out your social security number or use it as any passwords.
- Properly thread or destroy any important personal financial documents.
- Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) to reduce the mails on credit card offers. If you don’t get those junk mails, your mail thieves won’t get them either.
- Carefully shop online. Only do business with reputable vendors. Use www.bbb.org (Better Business Bureau) to check out the integrity of online/offline companies. Try using services such as Virtual Account Numbers provided by Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card, which allows you to generate multiple one-time credit card numbers for online shoppings. This way your true credit card information will not be given out to unreliable merchants.
- Regularly check your credit report for frauds. Yeah, I know there are a lot of “free” offers with some strings attached. But if you go to www.annualcreditreport.com, or click on Free Credit Reports on the right column of this page, it will take you to the only and truly free credit report site. This site was mandated by government. You can get one free credit report every year from the three credit reporting companies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The way that I use this service is that I request my credit reports every four months, but rotating through the three agencies. This way I request credit report every year from each agency, but every four months I get to look at my credit report for any frauds. The worst scenario is to have the fraud go undetected for four months.
- If you are extremely worried, you can freeze your credit usually for a small fee, or you can place a fraud alert for free whenever you “think” your credits are misused. A fraud alert message will stay in your credit report file for 3 months to 1 year, depending on which credit reporting agency.
Please let me know if you have other good tips.
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