Ways That You Can Prevent Identity Theft

As the internet and other modern communications tools play a larger and larger role in the way people work, shop and live, identity theft has become a concern for virtually everyone. In order to save yourself from the headaches of fraud, here are some fundamental tips for safeguarding your important information.

Make The Switch To EMV Cards

Over the past year, American retailers, lenders, and financial institutions have been switching over to “chipped” credit and debit cards which support the EMV standard. These cards give your financial information an added level of encryption when you use them for purchases.

If you haven’t already been sent chipped cards, contact your financial institutions and request them immediately. If you’re on close terms with any retailers you buy from frequently and they haven’t yet set up the equipment for using chipped cards, recommend that they do so.

Use Debit Cards For ATMs Only

If at all possible, restrict your debit card usage to accessing ATMs. Debit cards and credit cards do not enjoy the same level of fraud protection under the law and you are far better protected with credit cards than debit cards. Your bank may also freeze the account tied to your debit card while it conducts a fraud investigation and this can cause tremendous inconvenience.

Opt Out Of Risky Lists

Telemarketers are more than just an annoyance. They also provide cover that many identity thieves use to solicit personal and financial information. You can turn the majority of these calls away by signing up for the federal Do Not Call list (donotcall.gov). Note that legitimate charities can still call you asking for donations, but donating via a website will keep your information safer (see below).

You should take the further step of getting your name off the list that credit card companies use to send out pre-approved cards and offers. Identity thieves can pull this correspondence out of your mailbox and use it to obtain credit in your name or engage in more advanced forms of fraud. Visit optoutprescreen.com to keep these offers from being issued.

Always Initiate Financial Contact

The evergreen rule of identity protection remains the same: Never give your personal or financial information to individuals who contact you. Caller IDs, texts, email addresses, and websites can all be spoofed to make you think you are dealing with a legitimate company or government department when you are actually communicating with identity thieves.

Do not be intimidated by callers who demand your immediate response to financial issues. No one – not even the IRS – will ever actually contact you regarding matters that need you to volunteer sensitive information immediately. If you are contacted by someone that you feel is legitimate, make contact on your own by verifying the correct contact info through a trustworthy third party (e.g. web directory).

Although there are a lot of other steps you can take to avoid identity theft, the basic strategies outlined here should be useful and applicable for practically everyone. Exercise some common sense with your personal information. No one has ever missed out on a genuine opportunity or caused themselves real trouble by being cautious about their sensitive data.

Ross Germano is a self-defense and security enthusiast. You can check out his site, RevereSecurity.com for great information about self-defense and security, as well as the best in security products.

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