Identity Theft – Running Rampant?-How To Prevent ?

In his film Bowling for Columbine, director Michael Moore makes a point about the role that the media plays in keeping Americans frightened. Frequent news reports about violent crimes, terrorist threats, and all manner of mayhem are designed to keep people fearful and preoccupied with the terrors of the world around them, Moore’s film says.

However you feel about Michael Moore’s politics, you have to admit that Bowling for Columbine makes a good point and a strong argument. There are certain buzzwords that seem to be hyped by the electronic and print media that certainly do conjure fearful emotions and frightening images in people’s minds when they hear, see, or read them, especially in the post 9/11 world. Terms like terrorism, molestation, and identity theft are thrown about enough by the nightly news, CNN, and FOX News that they can make even Stephen King wet his pants.

Identity theft is a problem, of course, but is it as rampant as we’re led to believe? Does the problem warrant the spike in sales of personal paper shredders in recent years and the fear people have in making transactions by internet or telephone? Probably not. It’s something you want to safeguard yourself against, but those safeguards should be common-sense precautions. You don’t go walking in the bad part of town late at night with your pockets stuffed with fifty-dollar bills and you don’t post your name, address, and social security number on the internet. If you’re keeping every document that you ever may have written your name on locked in a strongbox that is locked in a safe that is locked in a bomb shelter that is beneath your basement, you may be letting the fear of identity theft have a little too much control over your life.

While it may not be necessary to shred every document that might be linked to you in some way to prevent identity theft, there are some precautions you should take to help prevent this and other types of fraud.

• Don’t use your social security number as your driver’s license number
• While over phone with customer service folks, do not give out your mother maiden name loud..even walls have ears.
• Use a PO-BOX for all your incoming mail. Even better if you get an full address from Mail Boxes etc. Usually it costs $15 a month. This way..your place of stay may change but your mailing address will stay content. Helping your credit score as well ensuring mail deliverability.
• Don’t keep your social security card with your other identification.
• Don’t keep your ATM PIN number on or with your ATM or debit card
• Always write “SEE ID” on the back of the credit card’s signature panel. NEVER SIGN IT with your signature.
• When accessing online portals from computers in public places such as Kinoks Library etc. Make sure you log out completely. Delete all the cookies and temporary file too.

These are commonsense precautions, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do these things. The real key to preventing identity theft is the same as preventing other types of crimes: don’t let yourself look like a victim.

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