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You Can Go Into Debt If Your Identity Is Stolen! Top 5 Ways to Avoid Debt and Identity Theft

January 22, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 140

Identity theft is when someone uses your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, and then runs up debt in your name. It's fraud; it's a very serious crime.

As many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity theft is serious. It can take a lot of time and money to repair the damage. Victims of identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied credit and loans because of negative information on their credit reports.

First things first. How do they steal your identity? Here is the top 5.

1. Dumpster Diving: Thieves go through trash looking for your personal info. Shred important documents, bills, bank statements, credit card statements, medical info, etc.

2. Skimming: Credit card skimming occurs most frequently at bars, restaurants and gas stations. Your information is stolen with a small, handheld electronic device that scans and stores the card data. Then they use your credit card to make purchases, run up your debt and damage your credit.

3. Phishing: Scammers call or email and pretend to be financial institutions or legitimate companies. They send emails or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal info. Guys DO NOT give your personal information to anyone that sends an email to apply for credit or is trying to obtain your personal info for any reason. Never never never ever. You should only apply for credit or give your personal information online when you have logged on through the web address bar. Never give your information to a company you are not familiar with.

4. Change of address: Thieves fill out a change of Address form through the post office and get your mail.

5. Pretexting: This is a huge problem. Scammers call, claim they are from a research firm, and ask you for your name, address, birth date, and social security number. Then they use the info to apply for credit, or get other services in your name. DO NOT EVER give your social security number over the phone or any other sensitive information. Even if the caller ID says "Bank of America" or any other legitimate bank or company.

The safest way is through a secure online site or in person, never over the phone. You have to protect yourselves. Monitor your accounts and bank statements each month and check your credit report on a regular basis. Look at every charge on your credit card statements every month. No exceptions. Look for anything that you don't recognize on all your charge accounts and your credit report.

Avoid Identity Theft and Watch Out For:

Accounts you didn't open and charges you don't recognize.Incorrect information on your credit reports, like address, names or initials, and employers.If your bills don't come in the mail. Follow up with creditors immediately. This could mean your address has been changed..Receiving credit cards that you never applied for.Being turned down for credit, or being offered high interest rates.Getting collection calls letters from debt collectors about merchandise or services you didn't buy.

You may already be doing some of these steps but a few more tips to avoid Identity Theft couldn't hurt.

This credit and finance information is also used on the S&M Show at A weekly Podcast hosted by Sidney and MaryBeth (S&M) about what their learning about credit, finance and how to manage their money a little better. So check out the free video and audio downloads on By E. Luna

Source: EzineArticles
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