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Credit card users can take steps to protect themselves from identity theft

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Credit card users, and consumers in general, are right to be concerned about identity theft.  This growing problem threatens their bank accounts and credit scores, and can result in the loss of time for victims working to recover from having their information stolen. 

But there are ways to protect yourself.  While one of the most well-known steps involves always shredding credit card offers and any documents containing personal information before throwing them in the trash, there are a number of other ways to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

  • Know where your important documents are kept, including your passport, driver's license and Social Security card, and make sure they stay safe -- possibly in a locked drawer or cabinet.
  • Immediately report the disappearance of any mail you should have received from a credit card issuer or your bank.
  • When credit card bills or banking statements arrive, look them over immediately. Contact your credit card company or bank directly if you spot any unusual or unauthorized charges.
  • Investigate any credit card or other bills, invoices or receipts for good or services you have not ordered.
  • Get a copy of your credit report from all three major issuers and look for any items that are unfamiliar.
  • When moving, be sure to have your mail forwarded to your new address.  Follow up by ordering a copy of your credit report two to three months after the move.
  • Shred credit card offers and documents containing personal information before you throw them away.
  • Keep a list of the phone numbers you need to call if credit cards or debit cards are stolen.
  • If you have a safe deposit box at the bank, consider storing valuable financial information (such as stock certificates) there.
  • Don't click on any links in suspicious e-mails or reply with your personal information, even if it appears to be from your bank. It is probably a phishing attempt.

Published: December 29, 2006


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