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How to fight identity theft

accountant37004036.jpgIdentity theft can ruin your credit, but it can also complicate your life for years to come. Becoming a victim of identity theft can make your life difficult because you have to spend hours trying to restore your good name, but it can also affect your ability to open new lines of credit. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to fight identity theft, so that you do not become the next victim.

One of the first things that you can do to fight identity theft is to be careful with your old documents. Your old documents are going to include credit card statements, bank statements, utility bills, paycheck stubs, receipts, and anything else that contains personal information. Most people simply throw these old documents out, which is what identity thieves are waiting for. What you want to do is pay a company to shred the documents for you, shred them yourself, or store them in a safe place. When you are storing your papers do not just leave them lying around in plain sight, place them inside a file cabinet that has a lock or use a safe to store important papers. Once you don't need the papers, anymore you should destroy them by shredding or burning them.

If you move, you will want to inform your bank, utility companies, credit card companies, and any other people that send you mail of your change of address. Even if you submit a change of address with the post office, you want to inform these companies yourself because sometimes mail slips through and can land in the wrong hands. All that identity thieves' need is one credit card statement and they can begin the task of stealing your identity.

If you stop using a specific credit card or other type of account you do not want to let the account become dormant. Rather than allowing the account to become dormant, you need to formally cancel or close the account. Formally closing the account ensures that you have not forgotten about the account, which is dangerous because if an identity thief steals that information you would never think to check that until it was too late. In addition to closing any unused accounts, you also want to make sure that you always know where your credit cards are, this includes your ATM and debit cards. Even in restaurants you want to keep them in sight at all times because you never know what might happen. If you ever do lose your cards you want to inform the right people immediately, the same thing holds true for stolen cards.

With PIN numbers, you want to make sure that you change them to something that you can easily remember. Some banks will not allow you to choose the PIN number, where others will assign you one and allow you to change it as long as you ask. When changing your PIN number you do not want to ever write it down on a piece of paper because that can fall into the wrong hands. Not only do you want to do this with PIN numbers, you should also safeguard any passwords that you have the same way.

Always use anti-virus software and firewall programs on your computer. These programs are your first line of defense in fighting online identity theft because they prevent hackers from gaining access to your personal information. Not only is it important to use these computer programs, but it is also important to keep them up-to-date. If the programs do not have the latest threats installed, they cannot protect you from those types of attacks. Your computer operating system should also be kept up-to-date to help keep your better protected.

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