What is Identity Theft?
This occurs when someone takes a piece of your personal information without your knowledge, such as your bank and credit card account numbers, your Social Security number (SSN), and your name, address, and phone numbers, then uses it to commit fraud or theft. An-all-too common example is when an identity thief uses your personal information to open a credit card account in your name.
Can you prevent identity theft entirely? Probably not, especially if someone is determined to commit the crime. However, you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely and cautiously, with an awareness of the issue. Guard against identity theft in these ways:
- Before you reveal any personally-identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information. Can you choose to have it kept confidential?
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
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