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Identity Theft - Key Actions to Take to Avoid It - Part One

March 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 126

It's a sad fact that identity theft and fraud is quite common today. In the last ten years it's estimated that over 50 percent of adults in the US have faced some form of identity theft. Here's a review of some of the common ways that you can have your personal financial information stolen and how to avoid them.

The biggest threat to anyone is probably the information that they already have online. However, this may not be information that they have knowingly placed there. It is information put there by companies with which they have obtained credit, or have otherwise done business. We read every week of a company whose records have been compromised, whose client/credit information has been stolen. There' s not much you can do about this, except to limit the businesses to you deal with to the best. Keep the number of business you share your financial information to the minimum.

Other forms of identity theft are under your control to a greater extent.

Never respond to phishing emails. This is an email that looks very similar to that you might legitimately receive from a company you have or might do business with. You might get an email from Chase bank requesting that you confirm bank information, etc. They request that you login to take care of some urgent business. It usually includes a logo similar to a real institution and a link to the website and sign-in screen. Of course, it isn't really from Chase, and most institutions are quick to say they will never send such an email. Don't respond to these emails. Don't click on the links. If you believe it might be legitimate then find the contact information of the institution independently and get in touch them separately.

Be very careful on mobile phones, since a similar scam occurs when entering some websites or applications. You enter a site and there is a popup screen requesting your email ID and password. People who are less familiar on a small screen or who are inattentive may enter this information thinking it is a legitimate request initiated by their phone. It isn't. Armed with access to your email account, they can comb through it for other IDs, accounts and passwords.

Be very careful on social network sites such as Facebook and others. You should have all your privacy settings set to the most private. Of course, you should not provide age, address and phone number information at all unless there is something critical you' d like to accomplish by doing so. Avoid revealing information that could be used as security access questions on other sites when you've forgotten your password. For instance, your pet's name or family history (mothers maiden name, etc.)

Don't use your email ID for any other important accounts. Especially don't use the same password with your email ID in another account. If they compromise your email account, they'll have access to the other accounts as well. In general, don't use the same password on many different accounts and sites. Obviously once they get the password, it's only a few short steps to get your accounts/ IDs, and then you'll be completely compromised.

Protect your Social Security number. Essentially, you should not give your SS number to anyone except where it is absolutely necessary. In some situations, where an institution already has your number, and wants to verify it, you can often simply provide the last four digits, and that's enough. In other cases, when applying for a loan, or anything requiring a credit report, they will need your social security number. The key here is to only apply for credit when you truly need it. More importantly, only deal with institutions you believe have a system in place to safeguard your information. You should never give it over the phone unless you are absolutely certain it is a trusted source on the phone.

Take your exact address off of your personal literature such as a resume and other documents where it is non-essential. Have you ever been asked for your zip code to verify a credit card purchase? If someone has your resume (with your address), and they steal your credit card separately, they can fraudulently make purchases. They wouldn't have been able to without your address. This is an example of how thieves can chip away at your identity information from different angles, and combine different pieces to steal from you.

To continue please see Part 2 of Identity Theft - The Best Ways to Avoid It at

Sean P. Greene

I am a financial professional with extensive experience solving analytical problems in business planning, marketing and operations. I have worked with many companies and individuals to help them achieve their business and financial goals.

Source: EzineArticles
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