Preventing identity theft
     * Protect your credit cards. Cut down on the number of credit cards you carry. You should need only one or two in your wallet or purse and possibly an ATM card. Also, limit any other personal documentation that you carry. For instance, there is no need to keep a Social Security card in your wallet.
     When using a credit card for a purchase over the phone, make sure you are dealing with a trusted vendor. If doing electronic purchases over the Internet, do so only through a secured site (you'll know it is secure if the Web site address on the page where you are entering personal information begins with "https").
     * Don't give out unnecessary information. Be cautious about letting strangers have access to personal information. For example, there are very few instances in which a Social Security number is required. Usually a Social Security number is necessary only for job applications or legal transactions (such as loans, rental agreements, setting up bank or investment accounts). ID thieves can sometimes try to coax personal information --like bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers --from you through an official sounding phone call or e-mail.
     * Track your purchases and other financial transactions. Keep a record of your credit card purchases so you can check it against your statement when you receive it. That will help you identify whether any unauthorized purchases have been made. The sooner you detect signs of ID theft, the faster the problem can be resolved.
     * Shred it and forget it. To protect your private information, a small paper shredder in your home or office can help safely dispose of any documentation that may contain personal information. Information that should be shredded includes banking and investment account statements; contracts; credit card statements and applications; ATM, bank deposit and credit card receipts; canceled checks; travel itineraries; and tax documents.
     * Check your credit report. Reviewing your credit report at least once a year is a good idea and allows you to see if any accounts were created that you were not aware of or whether an unpaid debt appears on your record.


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