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Preventing Identity Theft - What You Need to Know
By Colin McDougall

Identity theft is one of the fast growing crimes in America today. It is difficult to catch identity thieves since they are lurking everywhere. You must take action to protect yourself on a daily basis from this crime. Here we have provided you with tips to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
The following scenerio happens to millions every year. You have built up years worth of good credit history and you are shocked when you receive a call from a credit card company demanding that you pay past due accounts for purchases you didn't make.

You argue that it wasn't you but to no avail, your credit rating is damaged and it can take you years to get it back into good standing. This is the reality of the victims of identity theft.

Identity theft is a growing problem for both financial institutions and consumers alike. There are two types of identity theft; the first type occurs when a thief manages to acquire your SSN number and other pertinent information and actually opens up new accounts registered in your name. This type of theft is the more difficult one to detect as statements from the fraudulent accounts are mailed to the impostor and not you.

The second type of theft occurs when a thief gets a hold of you account information and empties as much of your money from your bank accounts as they can and rack up your credit cards as fast as they can before you find out. This type of theft is usually detected by the victim when they receive and review their monthly bank and credit card statements.

Although there is no way to prevent identity theft there are steps that you can take to make yourself less vulnerable to such attacks.

Protect access to personal Information

1. Do not carry your SSN card in your wallet unless you need it that day.

2. Do not carry any ID such as your birth certificate or passport unless it is required to do so that day.

3. Do not carry extra credit cards that you rarely use.

4. Contact credit-reporting bureaus and remove your name from their marking call lists. This will reduce the number of pre approved credit offerings that you will receive. Thieves intercept these cards in the mail, and activate them.

Restrict The Use of Your Social Security Number

Your Social Security number (SSN) should be guarded at all times. If a thief obtains this number they would gain access to all of your banking and credit card information.

1. Be wary of application forms that require your SSN. Ask if you can provide alternate information such as your driver's licence number. Find out what their policy is on guarding the information that they are requesting. If possible ask to speak with someone in charge and discuss your concerns with releasing your SSN. If they don't answer your questions to your satisfaction then avoid doing business with them.

2. Avoid carrying your SSN card with you in your wallet. Take it out of safe keeping only when you know that you are going to need it that day.

3. When using checks to make a purchase or when cashing a check do let the merchant write your SSN on the check. Once the check is out of your site anyone can copy it.

4. If possible it is best that you commit your SSN to memory.

5. Do not have your driver licence number or SSN printed on your checks.

Creating and Protecting Pins and Passwords

1. Most people use their mother's maiden name a pet's name their birth date or consecutive numbers when creating personal identification numbers (PINS). This is a common mistake as thieves are schooled in the art of finding out such information about their victims.

2. Use the first letters of the names of your favorite songs or the first initials of your favorite high school teachers, something that is easy to remember but difficult for someone to anticipate.

3. Commit your PIN number to memory. If your purse or wallet is stolen thieves are sure to find it if you have it written down inside somewhere.

4. Be sure to cover the ATM keypad with your hand to prevent someone from looking over your shoulder and prevent video cameras from being able to record your PIN.

Protecting your Credit Card Numbers

1. Never leave your credit card receipts at a business, always take them with you. Be sure to place them in your pocket or in your purse or wallet. Don't leave them in the bag and make sure they don't go into a public garbage container.

2. Keep a watchful eye on how a teller swipes your credit card. Be sure that it isn't swipe on two separate processing machines. Thieves pay dishonest store clerks to record customer credit card information on skimming machines.

3. Don't carry more credit cards than you require for that day's worth of transactions.

4. Make photocopies of you credit cards in a safe place in your home. If your credit cards are stolen you can quickly and report the numbers to the credit card companies.

5. If you are expecting a new credit card in the mail be sure to notify the credit card company if it is late arriving to you.

6. Monitor your monthly statements for any unrecognized purchases.

7. At least once year obtain a copy of your credit report.

8. Shred all credit card statements before disposing of them in your household garbage. Thieves can gain access to your garbage at the curb or at the dump.

Internet Safety

1. Only use websites that provide secure transaction protection.

2. Beware of phoney websites also known as "phishing sites" they will look as if they are from your bank or other legitimate sites such as ebay. They will send you an email requesting that you respond to them.

3. Make sure that you install a firewall to prevent intruders from entering your hard drive and stealing your credit information.

4. Make sure that you have virus protection and keep it updated to keep your information safe from be sent out in a corrupt email program.

5. When disposing of an old computer use a program specifically designed to remove all of your old files. Deleting them will not be good enough to remove them from your hard drive.

Colin McDougall is the editor in chief for the website [http://www.crediteria.com/]Crediteria.com. The site is devoted to helping consumers with all financial matters including the prevention of identity theft. Idenitity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country and you need to ensure you protect yourself starting today.

Read our review of an identity theft prevention service, Lifelock [http://www.crediteria.com/IdentityTheft/LifeLock.htm], that millions of Americans use everyday to protect their good name.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Preventing-Identity-Theft---What-You-Need-to-Know&id=957540] Preventing Identity Theft - What You Need to Know

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Ways to Prevent Identity Theft by Credit Card
By Travis Stone

One of the greatest fears that many people have is that they'll become a victim of identity theft. Most people just have the "oh, well, it won't happen to me" attitude. For 1 out of every 5 people, that's the wrong attitude to take. Which one of those five are you? The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud, usually through account takeover. In this type of crime, the thief gains access to a credit card and then, quite simply, starts making purchases with it.   

What makes this type of fraud an identity theft is that often the perpetrator will call the credit card company, bank, etc. and attempt to gain more information about the account's owners using a technique called "fishing."   With this technique, which is old hat among private investigators, the thief poses as the account's owner and attempts to change the account information, upgrade the account for more credit, make a cash withdrawal, or otherwise manipulate the account. With enough information, many thieves can use one account to get into several more. A debit card could lend access to checking, savings, and even mortgage accounts through the bank.  

Most banks and institutions have safeguards in place to prevent this total takeover of one of their customer's accounts, but the best prevention is to stop the thief before he can attack to begin with. To do that, you need to follow these 10 ways to prevent identity theft by credit card. Most of them are easy, no-nonsense security measures that you likely already take everyday as a part of your lifestyle. Others are just small habits you need to practice to ensure your credit's safety. 

#1: Carry Fewer Cards

Sounds pretty simple, but it's amazing how many people walk around with five, ten, or more credit and debit cards in their wallets. This is excessive and is tantamount to wearing five pounds of gold and diamond jewelry. Eventually, someone will decide to mug you. The more cards you're carrying, the easier it will be for a thief to take over your identity and fleece you for all the money they can. Reduce the number of cards that you carry to two. If at all possible, do not use a debit card at all as they're the easiest to use by thieves to get cash quickly and easily. 

#2: Watch Your Card

When you use your card at a store or restaurant where it's handed to an employee or waiter to process for you, keep your eye on the card at all times. Never let the employee walk away with your card and then come back later. It's not as uncommon as people might think for people like this to take advantage of their situation to copy card information or do a "false swipe" into a reader to record the information for later retrieval.  

#3: Never Use a Debit Card Online

When you shop online, never use a debit card attached to your bank account. No matter where your shopping is taking place, debit cards are the primary target of thieves. Instead, use a closed account like a pre-paid card, a credit card (they're better protected), etc. Companies like PayPal and others that offer cards that are separate from your checking account are popular choices.  

#4: Keep A List of Cards

Keep a detailed list or photocopy of all of your cards (front and back). Know the account numbers, expirations, phone numbers for reporting, etc. Keep this list is a very safe and secure place in your home or bank. If your wallet is stolen, your house robbed, or you otherwise have one or more cards stolen, this list could mean the difference between a few minutes to report the theft and a few hours while you find the information and the thief goes on a shopping spree... on you.  

#5: Keep Your Social Security Number To Yourself

Don't ever give out your Social Security or account numbers on the phone or through the mail if you aren't 100% sure that the person you're talking to and the business they represent is legitimate. When in doubt, don't give it out! If a business calls you, say the utility company, and asks for personal information for identification, tell them you'll call them back. Use the phone number in the phone book or printed on one of your bills to call them-not a number the person on the phone gave you. This verifies that the person is who they say they are and eliminates "fishing." 

#6: Keep Your Receipts

When you make purchases by credit or debit card, keep your receipt. Do not throw it away in a public trash container or even in your home garbage can without first marking out the account number or shredding the receipt. Most stores now print only the last four or five digits of your account to protect the information, but you only know if they did when you look to see that they did!  

#7: Do Not Write Numbers on Checks

When paying bills, DO NOT write your credit card (account number) on a check when paying the bill. If the check falls into the wrong hands, a thief now has two ways to take advantage of you (check plus card). Checks preprinted with your driver's license number are also a bad idea.  

#8: Watch the Mail

When a new card or fresh checks are coming, make sure you know when they're expected and are there to receive them. Better yet, have them sent to a secure box like a PO box or similar. 

#9: Read Your Account Statements

Read your account statements thoroughly and every time they come to you. Some thieves (especially online) will steal a card number, use it once, and then forget it. This results in the much lower likelihood of them being caught. Many of the frauds never even get noticed as account holders often look only at the "total owed" line on the account and don't read through line items. 

#10: Order a Credit Report

Order a credit report from the three bureaus yearly (at least). They are required by law to give you one free report per year, so take advantage of it. Read through it and make sure that there are no credit accounts you are unaware of, no claims on your file that you didn't authorize, etc.

Hopefully, these ten ways to prevent identity theft will help you keep yourself and your credit safe. They are simple things that require little effort on your part, but can greatly impact your chances of being targeted for identity theft.

For more information on protecting yourself in the real world as well as online just click this link - Avoid Identity Theft [http://identity-theft-pro.com/]

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?10-Ways-to-Prevent-Identity-Theft-by-Credit-Card&id=2107258] 10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft by Credit Card

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Two things to bear in Mind while we talk about Protecting yourself Online in order to Prevent Online Identity Theft and being Victim of Cyber-Criminals:

A. Keep in mind that antivirus software protects only your device, not your internet connection. It’s only Secured and Protected Virtual Private Network, VPN can securely protect your internet connection communications between your computer device, servers and websites.

B. A VPN is a must-have utility to protect your privacy and prevent hackers and snoopers from stealing your personal information.