Combat Identity Fraud Effectively! By Michelle Black

We have spent a lot of time over the last month discussing ways that you can protect yourself from one of the nation's fastest growing crimes - identity theft.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to read our 10 part blog series, Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft, we would love to invite you to do so. Simply check out our June blog archives to get started.  Remember, if you educate yourself on the tactics used by ID thieves then it will be much, much harder for any identity thief to take advantage of you.  Here's a quick summary of the 10 best ways to protect yourself from identity theft:

1. Check your credit report for fraud! It's important to check your credit at least twice per year.  Nearly 90% of current credit files contain mistakes, fraud, or errors!  (Click on the link above for additional details.)

2.  Make copies of your credit cards! This will enable you to act quickly in the event that your credit card is lost or stolen. (Click on the link above for additional details.)

3.  Shred, burn, or otherwise destroy "thief prone" documents. Keep "dumpster divers" from stealing sensitive information right out of your trash can! Check out the full article (by clicking the link above) for full details on which kinds of documents you should always destroy in order to protect yourself.

4. Don't give personal information on the phone unless YOU initiated the call. Beware, beware, beware of telephone scam artists who will try any tactic necessary to steal your personal information right over the phone. (Click on the link above for additional details.)

5.  Never leave personal information in your car. It's all too easy for an identity thief to break into your car and steal sensitive personal information.  Once your ID is stolen it can become a nightmare to regain your good name so always follow this important step to protect yourself.  (Click on the link above for additional details.)

6.  Don't fall for phishing scams! Never reply to an email or instant message with your personal information. Remember, identity thieves are getting more and more creative, so even if the email looks like it originated from your bank or another personal creditor you should never reply to it or click on a link to provide any personal information, user name, or password.   (Click on the link above for additional details.)

7. Don't put checks in your mailbox. Mail theft is a common form of identity fraud.  It is easy for a crook to steal your check and use acid wash to change the name of the recipient. It is always safer to drop your checks off at the post office for mailing or to pay bills online via a secure website.  (Click on the link above for additional details.)

8.  Don't carry unnecessary personal documents in your wallet or purse! Extra credit cards, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and even social security cards should not be kept in your wallet or purse. In the event that your wallet/purse is lost or stolen you make it much easier for an identity thief to cause severe damage to your credit if this information is easily accessible.  (Click on the link above for additional details.)

9.  Monitor your statements every month. A great way to prevent serious identity fraud is to monitor your statements closely. Early detection of fraudulent activity can often protect your credit report and help you to avoid paying for any charges you did not authorize.  (Click on the link above for additional details.)

10. Take your name off promotional lists. The fewer promotional offers you receive in the mail the harder it is for an identity thief to steal an offer and apply for it in your name.  Plus, removing yourself from these lists will help to reduce the amount of pesky junk mail you receive - bonus! Check out the link above for detailed instructions on having your name removed from these lists.

Please feel free to share today's article with your online friends and family by clicking our easy to use "share" buttons below.  We would love for you to join HOPE in the fight against identity fraud! And remember, if you or a loved one has already been a victim of identity fraud there is still hope for you.  Just give our caring credit experts a call at 704-499-9696 for more information on how the HOPE Program has been helping victims of identity fraud (and countless other credit issues) for 11+ years.  We would love to give you our professional advice and see if the HOPE Program can be of any assistance to you.

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