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Why You Are Not Protected From Identity Theft by Jon Arnold






Article Author Biography
Why You Are Not Protected From Identity Theft by
Article Posted: 02/12/2007
Article Views: 164
Articles Written: 781
Word Count: 657
Article Votes: 0
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Why You Are Not Protected From Identity Theft


 
Finance & Investment
Identity theft is one of the fasting growing high-tech crimes of this century, yet most people are taking a very lax view of it in terms of ensuring that they are protecting themselves against it. At least until they discover to their absolute horror that they have become a victim of identity theft. At that point, it is too late and that victim is going to spend a significant amount of their personal time and likely a fair chunk of money in order to straighten out the mess.

What is identity theft? Simply put, that is when a thief steals your identity. In other words, the thief obtains some of your personal information – enough of it to allow them to open credit card accounts or apply for loans as if they were you. Are you starting to see where the problem comes in? So the thief has opened a couple of Visa accounts, get a new car loan approved, and is last seen driving off into the sunset with a new car and credit cards charged to the hilt, never to be seen again. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the car dealership and the Visa companies are calling you to ask when you are going to start making payments.

How can this happen? In today’s world of credit cards and debit cards, it is unfortunately all too easy, and if you are not careful, you could easily become the next victim. Think about all the places that enough of your personal information appears, and what you do with that information. For example, say you get the same junk mail that most people get where you are offered car insurance or pre-approved for a new credit card. If you are like most people, you throw the mail in the trash. That is mistake number one. NEVER throw that stuff in the trash. That stuff will almost always contain your name and address, sometimes also your phone number, perhaps your driver’s license number, and sometimes even your social security number. In other words, more than enough information for someone digging through the trash to temporarily become “you” and commit an identity theft crime.

The answer is to get a paper shredder. These are incredibly cheap, like under $50 at just about any office supply store like Best Buy, Office Max, etc. SHRED that junk email if it contains any information about you personally.

Another word of advice is to RARELY use a debit card. The rules of a debit card are vastly and totally different than the rules of a real credit card, even though the debit card probably still sports the Mastercard or Visa logo. With a debit card, you usually cannot dispute a transaction like you can with a credit card. With a credit card, your liability is usually capped at $50 (depending on the card), but a thief can drain your entire debit card bank account and you will have no recourse. Never allow the waiter in a restaurant to walk off with your debit card for exactly this reason. If you are in a restaurant and paying with plastic, either use a real credit card or walk up to the register yourself if you must use a debit card. And when given a choice by the establishment asking if you want to use your debit card as a credit card or debit card, ALWAYS choose the credit card option.

There are multiple more things you should do to protect yourself against identity theft, but the key is to start doing them NOW as a normal part of your life so that you can lock in those habits and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Jon is a computer engineer who maintains web sites on a variety of topics based on his knowledge and experience. You can read more about Identity Theft Protection at his web site at Prevent Identity Theft. \

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