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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft (From Fortune)

As more and more of our data becomes computerized, identity becomes more and more of a problem. Just recently, hackers broke into Lexis-Nexis and lifted information on over 300,000 people. In fact, the Unknown Brother In Law was a victim a few years back. This article in Fortune Magazine "Protect Yourself From Identity Theft" lists a baker's dozen ways to protect yourself.

A while back, I taught a personal finance class. I used to have a regular feature called the Scam OF The Day where I highlighted a different way people could cheat your. Many involve nothing more complicated than getting you to reveal personal information on bank accounts, credit cards, etc...

Here are some of the suggestions from the article:

  • Never give out personal information to strangers - whether it's an email, or a phone call.
  • Get your free copy of your credit reports annually
  • Consider a "fraud alert" service with the three major credit agencies
  • Check you bank and credit card statements monthly
  • Make sure your computer has UPDATED virus protection software
  • Keep Windows updated - set your system to automatically download the updates
  • Install a firewall
Click here for the whole article.

Another good suggestion is to take all the paperwork out of your wallet and photocopy it. Make copies of both sides of social security cards, credit cards, etc... and keep it in a safe place. That way, if you lose your wallet, you know exactly what's been lost.

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