Protecting Your Credit
Identity Theft, Dealing With and Prevention
Do you have a favorable credit score? If so, there are many bad people out there who would sure like to use both your credit score and your identity for their own mischief. Identity theft is a crime! The number of identity theft cases in Tucson, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale, and throughout Arizona continues to increase. Chances are, either you, some family member, or someone you know has been negatively affected by theft of their identity.
Identity thieves can get information from potential victims in a variety of different ways. Some of the most common ways of gaining other people’s important information include: rummaging through the trash, stealing mail from mailboxes, hacking into personal computers, or running e-mail or telephone scams where the soon-to-be victim volunteer their information freely. Identity thieves can also obtain debit and credit card numbers by standing close behind someone at ATM machines. Thieves also sometimes install portable scanning devices an ATM and credit processing machines which do the dirty work for them.
Chances are, if you have been hacked or had your identity stolen, you will not even realize that it has transpired until it is too late. Unfortunately, there is not just one action that can completely prevent identity theft. There are steps that you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Steps to Take to Prevent Identity Theft
- Create strong passwords for all on-line accounts
- Use only secured web sites for financial transactions
- Keep Social Security Card in a safe place.
- Review all bank statements and billing statements monthly.
- Shred important information and accounts before discarding.
- Pay bills on-line electronically.
- Protect your PIN # at cash machines and stores.
- Sign your credit and debit cards as soon as they arrive.
Even if you take all the necessary steps that you can think of, it is still possible that you may be a victim of identity theft in Arizona. Preventative steps simply lower your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. It still could happen to you.
If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you are a victim of identity theft, it is important to file a police report and get a copy of the report that you filed so that you can provide to creditors, the credit bureaus, and others who may require proof of the crime. In cases where the victim has personal information stolen, there are additional steps that you take. One of the things that you can do is to place a “freeze” on your credit file and place a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases and contact the 3 major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file.
Protecting your credit has never been more important. With the poor financial situation currently evolving in Arizona, identity thieves will become more desperate and will take greater chances in order to steal your identity, your credit, and ruin your financial stability. Be aware!