How to prevent fraud

Minimizing the possibility of identity theft
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Identity theft is when someone other than yourself uses your name and personal information to open and use accounts.  ID theft may include establishing and using credit cards; establishing phone, wire, cable, or other services; establishing bank accounts to write bad checks; using counterfeit checks or debit cards to drain your accounts; and/or opening loans (such as auto loans) in your name.

Here are ten basics ways to protect yourself against ID theft, minimize the potential of becoming a victim, and take action against ID theft:

1. Understand your credit and maintain orderly credit behavior and a good credit record (tools such as CreditXpert® can help consumers understand, manage, and improve their credit).

2. Verify the accuracy of your credit reports at all three bureaus to be certain that all information is correct, that accounts listed are your own, and that all consumer-authorized inquiries are your own.  Dispute or correct any inaccurate information.

3. Sign your credit cards when you receive them.

4. Always verify totals on receipts for electronic transactions before signing, and never sign blank receipts or slips.  Keep all receipts and destroy all carbon copies; do not leave them behind.  Verify all totals, including individual transactions, on account statements and checkbook statements.  Always file statements in a secure location.  Contact your issuer when statements do not arrive.

5. Safeguard your mail (identity thieves often steal mail, including bank and credit card statements to gain your personal identification information).  Shred credit applications and invitations received by U.S. Mail that do not interest you.  Shred any documentation that includes financial account information which you wish to discard or documentation with your name pre-printed on it, such as forms and applications.

6. Keep a list of your account names, numbers, and expiration dates in a safe, secure place to reference in case your wallet/purse is stolen.  Keep PINs and passwords in a secure location in your home and do not carry them with you or share them with others.

7. Act quickly if your wallet/purse is stolen:  Immediately contact all your credit grantors.  Also, if your Social Security Card is lost or stolen, immediately contact Social Security Administration.  Immediately contact your bank if your checkbook is lost or stolen.  Immediately contact your motor vehicle administration if your Driver’s License is missing or stolen.

8. Never give account information by telephone to solicitors.  If you are contacted by your issuer and they ask for your account number, do not provide it.  If they are the issuer, they should know your account number.

9. Carry credit cards and debt/ATM cards that display your ID photo, if your lending institution offers this feature and it is available to you.

10. If you are a victim of ID theft, call the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1.877.IDTHEFT (438-4338).
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