Our 10 Best ID Theft Prevention Tips

Keep­ing your iden­tity safe is impor­tant. If some­one else is able to get their hands on your sen­si­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion, not only can they pre­tend to be you for all intents and pur­poses, but they can also take your money, your credit and your entire life  The anonymity of this crime makes many peo­ple feel help­less to pre­vent it.
There is no need to be hope­less though. There are some easy ways that you can keep your iden­tity safe, start­ing today, that can make a world of dif­fer­ence in pro­tect­ing your infor­ma­tion. Here are the Top 10 ID theft pre­ven­tion tips that you can imple­ment today to help to make your iden­tity safer.

1. Don’t carry extra credit or debit cards

Do you have one pri­mary account that you use for spend­ing? Then keep that one card with you and lock up what­ever other ones you may have in a safe loca­tion at home where thieves won’t think to look. Not only does this make it harder for an iden­tity thief to get their hands on all of your accounts, but it will also improve your spend­ing habits.

2. Cross­cut shred­ders are a must have in your home

We all like to joke about the guy who got his tie caught in the shred­der, but those old shred­ders really don’t do any­thing. Straight line cut paper is easy to remove from your trash that is curb­side and can be eas­ily taped together by an iden­tity thief. Look for a cross­cut shred­der that spits out tiny lit­tle pieces of paper. This will dis­cour­age an iden­tity thief to no end.

3. Recy­cle Your shred­ded information

Tak­ing your per­sonal papers that have been shred­ded and dump­ing them into a huge recy­cling bin full of paper elim­i­nates the curb­side thief. Mixed up with lit­er­ally tons of other paper, your iden­tity sim­ply gets lost in the mix.

4. Never carry your Social Secu­rity card

The only rea­son why you need a Social Secu­rity card with you is to pro­vide a copy of it to a new employer, and even then you could make the copy at home. Other com­pa­nies may request your Social Secu­rity card for ver­i­fi­ca­tion of who you are, but you can request alter­na­tive meth­ods of identification.

5. Use one time credit card num­bers while online shopping

Many credit card com­pa­nies offer an online shop­ping ser­vice where they will assign your account a unique num­ber that is good for one pur­chase only that you have autho­rized. This pre­vents iden­tity thieves from get­ting your actual credit card num­ber if you hap­pen to have spy­ware of key­log­ging soft­ware inad­ver­tently installed on your computer.

6. Don’t surf the inter­net with­out anti-virus, anti-spyware, a fire­wall, and anti-malware soft­ware installed.

The inter­net is a dan­ger­ous place thanks to the actions of a few, so to keep your­self safe while work­ing, surf­ing, and play­ing online, be sure to have all the pro­tec­tive ser­vices prop­erly installed and updated on your com­puter. Iden­tity thieves have even started to cre­ate viruses that affect Apple’s O/S, so always remem­ber that every com­puter you own is a poten­tial target.

7. Keep a list of all your finan­cial account num­bers  locked away.

If you do hap­pen to lose your wal­let or purse, or you sus­pect you have become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, time is of the essence. By hav­ing this infor­ma­tion eas­ily acces­si­ble, you can sim­ply grab your list and start mak­ing calls instead of fum­bling around on the inter­net and through your files try­ing to find it after the fact.

8. Don’t give out any infor­ma­tion to peo­ple you don’t know.

Why would some­one you not know or a com­pany you’ve never done busi­ness with need your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion? To steal your iden­tity, that’s why! If you don’t know who is ask­ing for your info, don’t give it to them until you’ve ver­i­fied the authen­tic­ity of their request.

9. Beware aware of “phishing.”

Phish­ing is one of the biggest causes of iden­tity theft around today. Iden­tity thieves get you to give them your infor­ma­tion through a bogus e-mail or even phone call demand­ing you ver­ify your infor­ma­tion to save an account you might have with a legit­i­mate busi­ness. You talk to a con­vinc­ing per­son on the phone or you get trans­ferred to a legit­i­mate look­ing web­site where you “ver­ify” the info, but what you are really doing is sim­ply hand­ing your iden­tity away. You haven’t won any­thing. Your account will not be closed. You do not ever have to give some­one a pass­word or your PIN num­ber. Always, always, always ask ques­tions if you are unsure!

10. Some­times You Can Share Too Much Information

With the inven­tion of social net­work­ing on the inter­net through the var­i­ous web­sites, we tend to get very friendly with a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple who we may not even know per­son­ally. All it takes for an iden­tity thief who has friended or fol­lowed you to get into your home and take your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion is for you to post that you’re going to be out for a few hours, that you’re headed out on vaca­tion for a cou­ple weeks, or that you’re in charge of the school car­pool for next week.

Chances are you have pic­tures uploaded of your home that even show your file cab­i­nets, safes, or lock­boxes in the back­ground behind a smil­ing face. Be care­ful about who you decide to let fol­low you & friend you, and then be care­ful about what you share with them. With­out intend­ing to do so, you could be set­ting your­self up for an iden­tity theft inci­dent and not even real­ize it.

Iden­tity theft is the fastest grow­ing crime cur­rently in the United States, and it is grow­ing around the world as well. You can pro­tect your­self against iden­tity theft eas­ily by fol­low­ing these Top 10 guide­lines as con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble, while also look­ing into a credit monitoring pro­tec­tion plan that might fit your extended needs. Iden­tity theft is a $40 bil­lion per year prob­lem – don’t let it cost you too.

Long Island Car Dealerships Caught Selling Credit Repair & Identity Protection

Two car dealerships located in Long Island, New York announced settlement with state prosecutors after they it was determined the dealerships were selling add on products to customers, which included illegal credit repair and identity theft protection.  The dealers were using misleading and deceptive practices to encourage car buyers to sign up for additional services, while charging them upfront, a violation of state and federal law.  Additionally, the dealers were including the cost of these add-on’s in the contract price of the vehicle, where by law, any after sale items must be itemized separately so the customer knows the exact sale price of the car itself.

In total, the two dealerships will be required to refund over $118,000 to customers and pay approximately $10,000 in penalties and fines.

Schneiderman’s office has been cracking down on the practice known as “jamming,” in which unscrupulous dealers sell consumers add-on’s they didn’t request or desire, sometimes concealing the sales from consumers or misrepresenting the services as free.  

An attorney for Westbury Jeep Chrysler Dodge and Fiat, Stuart Rosenthal of White Plains, said his client sold credit and identity theft services supplied by a vendor, Credit Forget It, which was shut down last year under a consent order with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office.

“The dealership believed the product was appropriate and legal, and sold it for what it believed was a fair price to consumers,” he said.

 Read the full story at newsday.com.

What Are Credit Monitoring Services & How Do They Work?  

Many people make use of the credit monitoring services in order to be alerted to possible credit fraud and ultimately, reduce its negative effects on their finances. To ensure this level of protection, individuals to sign up for a service that will keep tabs on one or several of your major credit reports and notify you when there is a new account that is opened in your name, someone makes an inquiry to your file as well as when other possibly suspicious activities crop up. Most of the credit monitoring packages will also give you access to at least one of your credit scores and reports. For this reason, consumers usually make use of credit monitoring to keep track of their credit building progress.

Various companies are offering credit monitoring services which include the three primary credit bureaus as well as many of the major banks. It is not a big surprise that there is a big market for this kind of product since identity theft is becoming one of the most common complaints from consumers for many years.

Even though credit monitoring will not really prevent identity theft as well as other related loan or credit card loans, it still has the potential of alerting you regarding unauthorized access to your personal information before you start noticing a problem.

How It Works

Although logistics are basically provider specific, the credit monitoring services typically track your credit file and send your alerts when there are changes. Many of the companies are offering these notifications through a phone call, email, or text message, which depends on your preferences.

The forms of activities that credit monitoring services are going to bring to your attention include the following:

  • New Accounts

Credit reports note each time a new loan or credit card has been opened under your name. When there is a new account that appears on your file because of the mistake of the creditor or as the result of a fraudulent activity, it is better to know about it right away instead of waiting until you receive a bill through mail.

  • Hard Inquiries

Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, the respective financial institution is going to pull your main credit reports, which are referred to as a hard inquiry to your credit history. Any unexpected hard inquiry, like the ones that are not triggered by your application submission, is a sure sign of fraud. The identity thieves are well known for the use of the basic consumer data include the name, address and the Social Security number for opening financial accounts under the names of other people for them to rack up the costly charges and leave it up to the user to clean up the mess they did.

  • Changes to the Existing Accounts

You will also receive an alert when your credit report indicates a significant change in your payment and spending habits.

  • Changes in Address

A criminal who has the basic biographical information and access to one of your debit or credit cards can officially make changes to the address that you have on your file with the postal service so that they will receive your mail and have better control on your life. Most of the credit monitoring services are going to alert you about this kind of changes so that can easily straighten out the matter before things can get further complicated.

  • New Public Records

The information regarding bankruptcies, civil court judgments and tax liens is included on the consumer credit reports and while everyone will hope to spot an identity theft before it can even get this far, the credit monitoring service is going to alert you once someone encounters these forms of difficulties while still impersonating you.

The credit monitoring service is also going to notify you regarding these changes in a matter of 24 hours after they have noted your credit report, which will then fulfill its role as your official identity theft watchdog. As soon as you discover about the possible identity theft, it will be so much better so that you can also initiate the right damage control procedures before the fraud will wreak too much havoc on your financial files.

For the past few years, the companies have also come up with identity theft solutions which as far more comprehensive as compared to what you can get from the traditional services on credit monitoring. For instance, they might also monitor any sex offender registry, activities on your bank account, applications for payday loans, and more. The advent of this kind of services only underscore that there is indeed a growing concern among the consumers when it comes to identity theft in today’s personal financial environment that is becoming more electronic than ever.

The capacity of tracking the progress in credit improvement is also the other primary benefit that you can get out of the use of a credit monitoring service. These services will also provide you with better access to all your credit reports as opposed to just receiving one copy each year and possibly, you might also receive your credit scores at the same time. Most of the monitoring companies usually offer deals with certain credit score providers even though the scores that they will provide are not guaranteed to be the ones that are being used most often by the lenders. This will not just give you the chance of routinely parsing your files for any error for at the same time, this will also allow you to stay updated with your credit standing which will then improve how you are shopping for financial products and determine if the credit building efforts are needed.

As of this moment, some of the major players in the world of credit monitoring include TransUnion, Equifax, Experian, FICO which is a credit scoring company, most of the largest banks of the nation as well as niche businesses including Identity Guard, LifeLock and TrustedID.

Credit monitoring services are no doubt important to keep track of your finances so choose the one that will best suit you.

8 Ways You Can Prevent Identity Theft

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime which affects millions of people from different parts of the globe. If you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, you should know the best safety measures to protect yourself from this growing crime.

There are several tips you may take for consideration when avoiding identity theft and some of them are as follows:

Tip #1: Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service

Numerous companies offer credit monitoring services to help anyone protect themselves from identity theft. Such services are available at reasonable rates. Depending on your preferences, you can choose any identity theft service provider that offers top notch solutions.

Tip #2: Keep All Your Personal Documents in a Safe

If you have important documents, it is always a wise idea to keep a personal safe for your home and a safety deposit box anywhere. You may utilize your safe at home for protecting items including social security card, passport, and birth certificate.

Tip #3: Protect Your Wallet or Purse at All Times

If you are buying purses, choose the ones that can be closed shut or zipped. Try not to make use of bags that some can easily reach into or see. Also, keep bags close to your body with tight grip all the time. Don’t leave purses or wallets in the car and if possible, don’t leave these exposed and never keep them in an obvious place.

Tip #4: Photocopy Every Content of Your Wallet

It is also a good idea to make copies of your ID cards, credit cards, and other personal documents that you usually keep in your wallet. In addition to that, keep records of all phone numbers to contact in case you have to order replacement items or close accounts.

Tip #5: Remove Yourself from Any Promotional Lists

If you don’t want to end up with stolen identity, start removing yourself from promotional lists including pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists. This added clutter does not do any good. In fact, you just put yourself at risk of identity theft if the stranger gets their hands on pre-approved cards.

Tip #6: Examine All Your Bank Account Statements

If you want to ensure that your bank accounts are all safe, always examine all your bank account statements regularly. If you bank accounts have unauthorized charges, never hesitate to call your chosen bank immediately.

Tip #7: Never Reveal Personal Information to Unverified Sources

Regardless if it’s over the internet or the phone, don’t reveal personal information to any unverified sources. Never feel pressured to answer questions if you don’t trust the source. Also, feel free to make a request for verifying information before giving any information.

Tip #8: Shred All Sensitive Documents Before Throwing Them Away

Before throwing your personal documents, consider shredding them first. Dumpster diving is said to be a common way of stealing personal information. Buy shredders for your home or office and ensure that you destroy any paperwork that contain personal details before you discard them. This includes credit, statements, mail, and even receipts.

Considering those tips above can help you avoid identity theft. Implementing them on your daily routine will allow you to save your personal information from this growing crime.

Download the PDF of this article here Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

5 Steps To Avoid Being A Credit Fraud Victim

Credit card fraud is growing at an alarming rate across the globe and most of them involve online transactions. As a matter of fact, credit card fraud online is expected to increase to billions by 2008, based on the analysis of financial experts. This is quite a worrying statistic considering the detailed research as well as efforts from main credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa to prevent this growing fraud.

Typically, credit card fraud is defined as buying products or services from personnel not associated or connected with particular credit card making the transactions. Thus, the merchants are tricked into releasing merchandises or rendering several services to a false identity. The growth of this kind of fraud is still increasing and expected to grow in the long run.

Credit card fraud is a big problem as well as a dilemma within the society today. To reduce the chances of being a victim of credit card fraud, there are several steps you may consider. Subjects may include securing your bank account information, checking statements, keeping the credit cards safe, and verifying your visa card. Some tips may include not giving your PIN or bank passwords to anyone, throwing your bank statements in the bin without shredding it, and many more.

credit card fraudThe most typical method used by criminals is targeting cards and other information in offline shops, unsecured online transactions, and in conversation. If you have a credit card, you should not hand over it to anyone. Keep it out from possible fraudsters and don’t write your PIN number. Keeping your credit card in a safe and secure place is also a good idea.

Majority of mail order, internet, and phone fraud happens because of the reason that one’s card details are stolen. Due to this, don’t let your credit card out of sight and pay importance to it if you don’t want to fall from the criminal’s hands.

Keeping your credit card secure and safe can make a huge difference. But, similar to every consultant, fraudsters are also experts in their field and may acquire information from the smallest chance presented to them. So, check your bank statements regularly. When you get your bank statements, check if there are irregular or unauthorized transactions. If the statement presented such fraudulent transactions, call your credit card company or bank at the soonest date and let them know about the illegal activity.

There are other steps you may consider when avoiding credit card fraud. If you don’t want to suffer from the consequences of being a victim of credit card fraud, never forget to do those steps mentioned above and always ensure that your personal information is protected. Today, there are also some companies offering credit card fraud protection services. Depending on your choice, you can try such services to protect yourself from credit card fraud. But, make sure that your chosen provider is reliable and has a good reputation when it comes to providing such solutions as this can make a huge difference in the long run.