gold dollarPreventing Identity Theft:
Protect Your Identity in Public Places

It has become more important to protect your identity today than ever before. The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) all state that identity theft is the nation's fastest growing crime, now surpassing even drug trafficking.

You may think you have nothing to worry about since you are simply an average citizen leading a relatively quiet and routine life. Think again.

With the ability to access your own money from anywhere in the world, how do you protect your identity and avoid ID theft?

Protect Your Identity When Using ATM Machines

Identity thieves have become experts at watching your movement at ATM machines. Some have even used hidden equipment to record people's movements at the ATM machine. Since their goal is to access your PIN number, they can have their illegal camera recording as you punch in your PIN. To combat this possibility, place your hand over the keypad or shield the keypad with your body while keying in your access code.

Shoulder Surfing

If you use an ATM machine to pay for items in a store, and the keypad is easily visible to those in close range, again, shield the keypad when punching in your PIN number. Don't fall victim to these "shoulder surfers" who are looking for as much of your personal information as they can acquire and sell.

Protect Your Identity With Credit Cards & Debit Cards

When paying for goods or services with a credit or debit card at restaurants or stores you need to watch and be aware of how they swipe the magnetic stripe.

Some employees have been found with a hand held "card skimmer" device, which they use to quickly swipe your card before using the correct credit card processing machine. That skimmer captures all of your account information. After downloading your account details to a computer, this person has enough of your personal details to be able to shop over the Internet. They may even be using the information to create counterfeit credit cards.

If you are vigilant and closely monitor what the employee is doing with your card, you can catch them if they do use a card skimmer. (If you do catch someone skimming your debit or credit card, walk away and call the police immediately.)

Protect Your Identity When Using Your Social Security Number (SSN)

When in a public place, do not say your Social Security Number out loud (or Social Insurance Number - SIN - in Canada). Neither should you allow others to repeat your number out loud. If someone needs to repeat your SSN number, suggest they write it down for your verification then be sure to retrieve the paper it was written on and destroy it yourself. Do NOT print your SSN or driver's license number on checks either.

Always be aware when in public places, so you can prevent ID theft and protect your identity from unscrupulous individuals trying to steal your personal information.

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Notable Quotes

quote open The costs associated with identity theft are disheartening, especially when many Americans struggle already to make ends meet in today’s economy.quote close
~ Suze Orman

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