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How To Prevent Identity Theft
Every day, nearly 1,400 Americans are victims of identity theft. It can take anywhere from two to four years to straighten out the nightmare, and the average victim will invest approximately 175 hours and over $800 of their own money trying to get their situation resolved. Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself, safeguard your identity, and ensure that your credit remains sound.
1.Guard your Social Security number. If you have the number printed on your checks, cross it off manually and reorder new checks without it. If you have your SSN as your driver?s license number, request a new one with a different number.
2.Check your bank and credit card statements every month for unusual activity. You only have sixty days to report identity theft, or you become liable for the damages yourself.
3.Mail your bills from the Post Office or a public mailbox to deter thieves from stealing your outgoing checks and erasing the ink to use them later.
4.Shred any receipts and documents containing account numbers, policy numbers, or other personal information that could aid a thief in taking your identity. Trash diggers are known to target dumpsters for personal financial information.
5.Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers. You can opt out of receiving these annoying and potentially dangerous offers simply by calling toll-free at 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). You will be mailed a form asking for your Social Security Number, however, in this case, it?s safe to give it to them so they can remove you from their database.
Don’t let someone else live a life of leisure at your expense. Taking these simple steps to protect your identity will pay off for you long term by saving you countless hours of time and aggravation trying to restore your credit and your good name.