Saturday, February 27, 2010

Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, and other personal identification can net criminals thousands of dollars in a very short period of time.

While the financial loss incurred by this type of crime is not always incurred by the consumer, it can significantly traumatize them, and take them months if not years to restore their credit and good name, and may keep them from being able to cash checks, obtain loans, or even rent an apartment or obtain utilities.

The Comstock Park Post Office is inviting all Comstock Park residents to bring their sensitive douments and records to the local Post Office at 3913 Leland Ave NE, Comstock Park. Your documents will be shredded while you watch, courtesy of the United States Postal Service and West Michigan Document Shredding of Jenison.

Friday, March 12, 2010, 11:00 am - 1:00 PM.


You can minimize the risk of being victimized by taking the following steps:

1. Never leave your purse or wallet unattended, at work, at restaurants, at health fitness clubs, in your shopping cart, at church, at parties. Never leave your purse or wallet in open view in your car, even when locked.

2. Destroy all checks immediately when you close a checking account. Destroy or keep in a secure place, any courtesy checks that your bank or credit card company may mail you. Shred all financial offers, statements, etc.

3. Reconcile your check and credit card statements in a timely fashion and immediately challenge any purchases you did not make.

4. Limit the number of credit cards you have, and cancel inactive accounts.

5 Never give any credit card, bank, or social security or other personal information to anyone over the telephone or on the internet.

6. Minimize exposure of your social security and credit card numbers. If you are asked for your social security number by a business (i.e. doctor's office) and they already have that number on file, refuse to write it down somewhere again.

7. Safeguard your credit and debit and ATM card receipts and shred them before disposing of them. (Most places of business now will print only the last four digits of your card number, as now required by law)

8. Scrutinize your utility and subscription bills to make sure the charges are yours.

9. Memorize your passwords and personal identification (PIN) numbers. Keep your PIN numbers somewhere that only you know about, anywhere but with your credit cards. Don’t give out your PIN. Identity theft is often traced back to family members. You may be held liable if the financial institution can show negligence on your part.

10. Keep a list of, or photocopy all credit and identification cards you carry with you, including front and back, so that you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards. Keep the list or copies in safe place.

11. Regularly request a copy of your credit report. You are allowed one free report per year, so with three different credit reporting agencies, you could get one free report every four months.

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