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Preventing identity theft

Identity Theft is on the rise because it can be a relatively low-risk, high-reward gamble for criminals. Combine your Social Security number with a few additional pieces of data and they can assume your identity. It's not only an invasion of privacy, it can be a costly and timely ordeal, causing great emotional and financial distress. We offer you some steps you can take right now to protect yourself from identity theft.

Step # 1 - Just say no

Tell merchants no when they ask for your credit card number on your personal check. Not only is it illegal in some states, but it opens consumers to possible identity theft. Do not write your Social Security number on your checks either. If a thief gets your check with your Social Security number, you're asking for trouble.

Step # 2 - Don't imprint your driver's license on your checks

Shred all canceled checks, and when it's time to order new checks, request your driver's license number be removed.

Step # 3 - More precautions

Monitor your credit report on a regular basis. If you find errors in your report, like changes of address you did not initiate or accounts you did not apply for, check out Credit Expert's Fraud Center or call 1 888 397 3742 and request a copy of your personal credit report. The credit report will include contact information for disputing incorrect information. It's also important to watch your monthly billing statements for errors.

Step # 4 - Shred those pre-approved credit card offers

If you decide not to accept a pre-approved credit offer, shred it immediately. Don't let it fall into the wrong hands. These pre-approved credit offers can be retrieved from your garbage by someone trying to assume your identity. If you do not want to receive these offers, call 1 888 5 OPT OUT (1 888 567 8688) to be removed from the lists of all three major credit bureaus. Already a victim of identity theft?

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.


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