Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Identity Theft Protection and other Identity Theft topics.
Fraud protection is rarely a priority – until you've been the victim of identity theft. Do you have a fraud protection plan? Use these five self-defense tactics to protect against identity theft:
1. Get a copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies. Just by examining these three documents you can determine if there are erroneous facts or suspicious line items that need to be clarified or corrected. You are entitled to request and receive one free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Contact:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
T ransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
2. Read your bank and credit card statements! Typically the first warning that your identity has been stolen appears as unauthorized charges on your credit cards or unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account. Get in the habit of opening, reviewing and reconciling your statements right away. If you have access to your accounts online, it's even easier to check them frequently for any discrepancies.
3. Ask about security procedures whenever you are required to share your personal information. This could be at the doctor's office, your workplace, or even the gym membership you apply for down the street. Find out who can access your information and what measures are in place to protect your confidential information.
4. Make sure “dumpster divers” come up empty. Before throwing away or recycling paper, tear up or shred receipts, old insurance forms, credit card statements, or any document that contains personal and confidential information.
5. Protect your Social Security Number (SSN). Stolen credit card numbers and fraudulent charges are “easy” to fix compared to having your SSN stolen. Refuse to provide your Social Security Number if the person can't give you a satisfactory reason for needing it.