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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Protect Yourself

After few months here in the Nextel Fraud department, coupled with a few months working on Fraud issues for Western Union I have a few tips to offer the world in order to prevent you from identity theft or on line credit card theft: 1. Buy a shredder and shred all of your credit card receipts. Also shred all those offers for a free credit cards that come in the mail. 2. Here is the number for the Federal Trade Commission's ID theft hotline: 1 877-433-4338. A good resource if your Social Security number has been absconded by fraudsters. 3. Call the three major credit bureaus and have them add a Fraud Alert to your credit report. That way, any inquiries on your credit must be authorized by you. The bonus to this is that by doing this, there has been a change to your credit report and you can request a free credit report to review. There is always something pesky hanging around on it. 4. Here are the numbers for the three major credit bureaus: Experian>1-888-397-3742/ Equifax> 1-800-525-6285/ Trans Union> 1-800-680-7289. 5. If during the holiday season you are shopping online, be sure and only allow your credit card to be submitted once and never share your passcode on an online account with anyone. A reputable web retailer will never ask for your passcode. Any solicitations for an online passcode through a telephone or email request are generally Fraudsters farming for information. 6. Here is the FBI website for internet crime: Internet Fraud Complaint Center. This is a one stop link to report a crime related to internet id theft or credit card theft. 7. Contact your billers and request a passcode to be placed on your account that must be verified before any information can be changed or released. 8. If your Health insurer or any other biller uses your social security number as its billing account number, call them and ask to have that changed to a generic account number that can not be harvested by Fraud information farmers. All of the above steps, except for the purchase of a $30.00 shredder, are free and easy to implement and will offer you significant protection from identity theft.