Here are some tips Gunn-Mowery recommends to help prevent you from becoming a victim of online identity theft.
Take these important steps today to protect your name, credit and reputation.
Review your credit report. Check with all the major credit agencies at least twice a year. See if there are accounts or addresses you do not recognize. Is your social security number correct? Have there been more credit inquiries than normal? Any of these may be early signs of identity theft.
If you find something suspicious on your credit report, call any of the credit agencies fraud hotlines (see below) immediately. You may also want to add a consumer fraud alert, which asks creditors to telephone you each time a new account is opened in your name.
- 1. Limit the use of your social security number.
Provide your social security number only when necessary and never provide it in response to unsolicited mail. Do not carry the card in your wallet and never print it on your checks.
- 2. Shred non-essential solicitation letters.
This includes credit card solicitations. Be thorough, shredding with a cross-cut shredder. Some identity thieves will try to piece cut papers back together.
- 3.Don’t use your mother’s maiden name as a password.
It’s too easy to learn. Change it to another word with the creditors. When creating a password, include letters, numbers and symbols since they are more difficult for identity thieves to guess.
- 4. Don’t give out financial information online or on the phone.
Sensitive information should only be conveyed in person, unless you initiated the contact and you know the party you are dealing with.
- 5. Protect your online log-ins and passwords.
Don’t share passwords or log-in names and avoid leaving or writing them down near or around your computer. Protect them as you do your ATM and credit card numbers.
- 6. Learn more about identity theft and how to protect yourself.
Visit these websites to review more information on how to protect your online information:
http://www.identitytheft.org – http://www.privacyrights.org – http://www.idtheftcenter.org – http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft – http://www.antiphishing.org – http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html – http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/phishing.pdf
- 7. Don’t be a victim.
If you suspect identity theft or online fraud, report it to your local police, as well as the credit agencies listed below and the Federal Trade Commission.
Visit these sites for more information, or as a way to report suspicious activity:
Federal Trade Commission
Internet Crime Complaint Center
To report fraud: 888-766-0008
To order your credit report: 800-685-1111
To report fraud: 800-888-4213
To report fraud: 888-397-3742
To order your credit report: 888-397-3742
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