Every year hundreds of thousands of consumers become victims of identity theft. This results in millions of dollars in fraudulent credit card charges and countless hours spent trying to repair damaged credit files.
Follow these simple dos and don'ts to protect your identity and, ultimately, your good credit:
- DON'T give out personal information over the phone.
- DON'T respond to e-mails asking you to verify account numbers, credit card numbers or PINs.
- DON'T respond to correspondence requesting your account number in order to claim a cash prize such as lottery winnings.
- DO protect your personal information by shredding old account statements, credit card offers, or any other document that contains personal information.
- DO monitor your credit file by reviewing your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com.
- DO report any suspicious correspondence, phone calls or e-mails to your credit union.
Tips & TricksHere are 10 ways to protect yourself from online fraud and scams
- Don't assume a credible-looking Web site is credible. Anyone can create a Web site that looks legitimate.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Be cautious of unsolicited e-mails -- many are fraudulent.
- Be wary of anyone who asks for personal information. Don't give it out unless you've verified the person, business or Web site with a reputable source.
- Your Social Security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Do not give it out.
- Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and claims to be from a company with whom you have an account like a bank, credit card or phone company. If they ask for information thy should already have, don't give it to them. Call the company independently, using the contact information on your statement or obtained from the official Web site.
- Don't respond to offers that require you act immediately or won't take "no" for an answer.
- Legitimate charitable causes do not need to telephone or e-mail to solicit donations or obtain passwords or Social Security numbers to accept donations. Do not respond to these offers or pleas for help.
- Do not follow the "unsubscribe" instructions in unsolicited e-mail. This usually just verifies your e-mail address and you will get even more junk e-mail.
- E-mail addresses or Web addresses that have a company name in the address are not necessarily from that company. Go to the official Web site for contact information.