AVOIDING IDENTITY THEFT
Turns out we're also number one for identity theft crimes, according to the Federal Trade Commission, with Greeley leading the way.
Below are 10 tips you can follow in order to help secure and protect your personal information and ensure that your identity or your credit have not been compromised:
- By law, you're entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Check it regularly to make sure all data is legitimate.
- Keep your snail mail safe; remove deliveries promptly and take outgoing mail to a mailbox or post office.
- Keep your social security number confidential - in many cases, such as with your health insurer or department of motor vehicles, you can request a substitute number.
- Beware of imposters who claim to be from companies that you do business with and ask for confidential information. Always contact the company first to verify the request.
- Get off credit marketing lists - these offers for pre-approved credit are a favorite of identity thieves who will apply for credit in your name. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-6868) to enroll or go online.
- Make a photocopy of your credit cards as well as everything else in your wallet and store it in a safe place so that if you become a victim of identity theft you will have all of the needed contact information available to you quickly.
- Look into installing a firewall and anti-spyware software on your computer if you haven't done so already.
- Use a “cross-cut” shredder and get in the habit of shredding all documents about you or your finances before placing them in the trash.
- If you’re going to shop online, buy only from secure sites. You can tell if a merchant is secure by the URL: A secure web site starts with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
For further information, check out the Federal Trade Commission's site Fighting Back Against Identity Theft. This website is a one-stop national resource that provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.
If you're already a victim, try the Identity Theft Repair Kit from the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
Armed with your new knowledge, you're now ready to play the Identity Theft Face-Off Game. All you have to do is answer 6 questions correctly to regain your lost identity.
Movies about identity theft:
Books about identity theft:
Talk Talk: A Novel by T.C. Boyle
Await Your Reply: A Novel by Dan Chaon
Stealing Your LIfe: the Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan by Frank W. Abagnale