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Identity thieves will use your details ruthlessly. It is very important to keep a close watch on your financial information. This is usually the first place you will notice anything is wrong. Check your bank and credit card statements for any unusual transactions.
What does the identity thief want? A few things the thief is looking for are your Social Security number, driver's license and account numbers (bank, credit card and others), PIN numbers and passwords.
No one's saying you need to stay off the Internet to ward off data thieves, but you should be very careful.
E-Mail - Protect Yourself
- Banks, your credit card company and any other financial institution will NEVER e-mail you asking for your private information. ALWAYS delete any e-mail requesting this type of information.
- Read and understand the privacy policies. They tell you what happens to your personal information and what privacy options you have.
- Be discreet about what you post online. Think about what information you're putting out there, and the implications of it.
The easiest way for a thief to steal your identity is to ask you for it. Posing as your bank, or your insurance company, or your doctor's office, the thief calls you on the telephone, gives you a plausible story and asks you for key pieces of personal information. NEVER give anyone information over the phone. Request they mail you the information.
Repairing the damage - Act quickly
- Call law enforcement and report the identity theft. Make sure you get an incident number. Report all lost or stolen documents, such as passports, drivers licence, credit cards, checkbooks.
- Notify your bank, credit card company and any other financial institutions that holds your details. Tell them directly that you are contacting them about identity theft. You will need to close any accounts that have been compromised, which will be inconvenient but will prevent an identity thief from stealing any more of your money.
- Contact any companies where accounts have been opened in your name and tell them that you are a victim of identity theft. They will have a policy in place to deal with your inquiry.
- Contact the main credit bureau and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft and ask them to monitor your credit activity. Ask them to send you a credit report. They can flag your account for any activity and will alert you.
Until next month!
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