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Top 7 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Identity Theft
By Carol D'Annunzio
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Identity theft is a serious crime that affects thousands of people each year. In order to protect yourself and your business, it is vital to safeguard your personal information. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming the next victim:
- Get your credit reports and fix any errors.
These reports are free once a year. You can get the reports from all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It’s a good idea to space out the reports from each company so you can check your credit status a few times a year.
- Protect your Social Security Number.
Give it out only when absolutely necessary. Except for banks, employer or other government institutions, you are not legally bound to give your SSN to private businesses. Ask that they use a different number for identification purposes.
- Shred everything.
Reconciled statements, pre-approved credit applications, bills or anything that has information on you should be shredded. Get a criss-cross shredder instead of a straight shredder. Thieves can and do rummage through the trash and take the time to put together straight-shredded documents.
- Don’t leave a paper trail.
There are still a lot of companies that have not stopped printing your whole account number and expiration date on receipts. Keep all credit, gas or ATM receipts in a safe place until you get home and remember to take them out of your wallet or purse.
- Clean out your car.
The only thing in your glove compartment should be your owner’s manual. Take out the registration and insurance cards, old mail and bills and everything else that could give your identity away.
- Take mail to the Post Office.
Mail left in your home box for the carrier can be stolen and used by thieves to get your personal information, so take all mail to the Post Office or a street corner Post Office Box.
- Shop secure online.
Make sure all charges are handled through an encrypted mode or through a secure site. Also, look for either the BBB online seal or the Trust-e symbol before purchasing.
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Article Submitted On: May 01, 2008