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Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Practical Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

During 2011, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 270,000 complaints related to identity theft. Having your identity stolen can create a number of problems for you, namely unwanted debt and a higher likelihood of bankruptcy. Here are some measures you can take to avoid becoming a statistic.

Be mindful of how you use your smart phone to conduct financial transactions. You should only do so on a secured network so that others can’t hack into your phone. Be sure to lock your phone when not in use, and call your carrier immediately whenever you lose or misplace your phone.

Maintain a personal relationship with the employees at your bank. Rather than going through the drive-thru window, conduct transactions inside the lobby face-to-face. If your bank tellers know you, there’s less of a chance someone will be able to withdraw money from your account by using a stolen identity.

Keep your personal documents and receipts in a locked safe. That way, if intruders were to enter your home, they would not be able to get hold of this information easily. Be sure to destroy any old documents by shredding them-or better yet, burning.

Keep track of your credit report so that you can become aware of unwanted charges as soon as they appear. It’s much easier to clean up identity theft when it is detected early on, and some credit monitoring services even notify you as soon as new accounts are set up in your name. This allows you to dispute the account immediately, often before funds are even distributed.