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Identity Theft and Spyware- The New Threat

Use Cross-Cut Shredders

You should shred all old bank and credit statements, as well as pre-approved credit-card offers, before throwing them into the trash. Always use a crosscut shredder. Crosscut shredders cost more than regular shredders but do a better job. Although a cross cut shredder is more expensive and may need more maintenance, it offers some advantages that make it a better choice. A cross cut shredder cuts up waste paper in two directions: vertically and horizontally. This provides you more security for the shredded documents. The shredded paper is in tiny pieces instead of strips which make reconstruction of the documents a lot more difficult.

Example shredder products: Fellowes S70C, PS80C, ROYAL AG10X, Other shredders...

Secure Your Snail Mail

One way identity thieves grab information is simply by stealing it out of mailboxes. You can use a locking mailbox to prevent theft of mail sent to you. You also might consider dropping off your mail inside the post office whenever you send out bills to ensure mail is never intercepted. Thieves will go as far as to steal checks sent out by consumers and using chemical washes to remove ink. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service to request a vacation hold on your mail.

Watch your Snail Mail

Be sure to tear up all pre-approved credit card offers and pay close attention to your credit card billing cycles. If a credit-card bill is more than a few days late, call the issuer and ask if there have been any inquiries or changes to your account. One of the most common tricks ID thieves use is to simply change the snail mail address of your accounts.

If you don't want to receive unsolicited credit card applications in the mail, by law you can demand that your name be removed from the marketing lists that credit bureaus sell to credit grantors looking for new customers.

Opt-Out of “Pre-Approved” Credit Card Offers

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives U.S. consumers the right to "opt out" or stop credit bureaus from providing your name and address for marketing lists for credit or insurance offers. Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688), a special phone number set up by the nation's top three credit bureaus and another nationwide company called Innovis. When you call this number, you can opt out of these lists for two years or opt out permanently. We recommend the permanent opt-out route. Be advised that if you want to permanently opt out you will receive a form, usually within in five (5) business days that you will have to return. They will also ask for your social security number on the call. The entire process takes about five minutes and is time well spent.

Protect your Information

Never give your credit-card number or personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust the business. It is critical that you don’t reveal highly personal information, like social security numbers, on documents like bank checks. Nor should you let merchants write down your social security number as a form of identification on a check. The general rule of thumb about personal information is less is better.


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