AVOID ID THEFT – with Proper Precautions!

By Pamela Hout

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are a wide variety of ways for thieves to steal your personal information. As with anything else, awareness is the first step to prevention. Below are a few to take note of and ways for you to avoid them:

Dumpster Diving

They rummage through trash looking for your bills or other paper with your personal information on it. ACTION: Buy a shredder and use it!


They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card. ACTION: Keep an eye on your card at all times, especially at the register.


Fraudsters pretend to be financial institutions, companies or government agencies and send email or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information. ACTION: Don’t click on email from strange sources or pop-up messages.


Sophisticated computer hackers worm their way into your computer contents via fancy programming, then steal your information. ACTION: Install security programs or firewalls to prevent hacking.

“Old Fashioned” Stealing

Yes, it’s still fashionable to pick your pocket, steal your purse, rummage through your mail for pre-approved credit card offers and anything else you can think of. ACTION: Protect your purse and wallet; get your mail every day, or arrange for the post office to hold it while you vacation.

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having your identity stolen despite your best efforts, be sure to alert the proper authorities, your credit card companies, your bank and credit union, the three credit reporting agencies and the police department. (For more information, please go to www.ftc.gov and search “identity theft.”)

The bottom line is for you to be up to date on current schemes and to stay one step ahead of the thieves!

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