How do I protect yourself from identity theft?

How do I protect yourself from identity theft?

Protect yourself against identity theft; A growing problem

By Karla Sullivan

Almost daily, we will pull out that credit card for something whether it is to swipe at the nearest coffee shop, grocery store or pay a bill on line and it will never happen to us but most of us do know someone that has experienced identity theft.

Maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, over 2 million identity theft and fraud complaints were filed in 2012 alone. And actually burglary and theft of a wallet, purse, personal identification cards or computer was up 73 percent. But the most common form of identity theft was government document and benefit fraud, which is using Social Security cards, drivers licenses, birth certificates, unemployment documentation illegally.

No matter how theft is used whether it is smuggling drugs or committing crimes, they are using your identity to do it. Ultimately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from any attempts at stealing your security and life.

Passwords should be changed frequently and you should use a variety of symbols and numbers to make it more difficult for hackers.

Personal information should never be shared in a crowded environment and never share your social security number where others can hear or see it.  Avoid repeating credit card information over the phone when others can hear the information as well. Avoid putting your social security number on anything but tax documentation.

When shopping online look to shop on HTTP websites as well as the security yellow lock in the right corner of your computer screen.

Watch you credit score if it changes quickly.

Do not save any personal account numbers on your cell phone.

Shred important documents.

Lock any important identification numbers in a lock box.

Check your financial statements on a regular basis.

Make sure you use up-to-date anti virus protection for your computer.

If you suspect that someone has stolen your identity, contact your bank, lenders and have them help you with the next steps. Contact your local police to establish a report on file.

Identity theft insurance coverage is available that can cover the cost of obtaining credit reports, legal fees and generally it is an optional rider to your homeowners or renters policy. However, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners cautions that it will not cover monetary losses due to theft. Also many policies have a high deductible, which may match the amount of expenses paid anyway for the situation.

Check with an insurance agent for the best solution.

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