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Identity Theft

Tools to Prevent Identity Theft

The number of Americans who have experienced identity theft has surpassed 27 million and continues to increase every year.  Listed below are some steps that you can take to help stop identity theft from happening to you:

1. Do not give out personal or financial information such as social security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers unless you know the person or organization.

2. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. 

3. Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries.  Always be wary of callers wanting to "award a prize" or "verify a statement".

4. Closely guard your ATM information such as your PIN and receipts.

5. Shred any financial solicitations and bank statements before disposing of them.

6. Put outgoing mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box.

7. If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why.

8. If your bills include questionable items, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud.

9.  Keep an updated list of all relevant parties to notify if you are a victim. 

10. Obtain a free credit report annually:  

       www.annualcreditreport.com               (877)322-8228 

 

Watch out for "phishing" and "pharming" which is when someone contacts you and states that they are updating records or records were destroyed and they need to re-enter your information.  In some instances, they will go as far as having a fake website which looks legitimate, but the address is completely unrelated.

Question anyone who is asking for a social security number and be sure you know who you are giving your information to.  Any legitimate company or representative will understand. 

You should invest in anti-virus/spyware to help protect your information.  It is money well spent.


                       

Credit Reporting Bureaus

Equifax (www.equifax.com)   
      Order a credit report 1-800-685-1111
      Place a fraud alert 1-888-766-0088
Experian (www.experian.com)  
      Order a credit report 1-888-397-3742
      Place a fraud alert 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion (www.transunion.com)   
      Order a credit report 1-800-888-4213
      Place a fraud alert 1-800-680-7289