Simple ways to avoid identity theft.

Fear drives the market and a new group of services are being marketed to those who have become afraid of identity theft. But keep in mind that you can do several free things to avoid having your identity stolen.

The most important thing you can do is to be very careful about giving out your personal information, expecially on the web. There are ever more sophisticated methods of “phishing” being developed. Phishers have become very good at getting unsuspecting web users to provide their personal data over the web to “update your account” or for other phony reasons. NEVER do it. If someone is entitled to your data, let them call you. Better still make them let you call them. You must be sure who they are.

You should also check your credit report at least annually. New laws make it easy to get the report free. Click below for details.

If you have any reason to think your identity has been compromised, you can put a “fraud alert” on your account at the credit reporting agencies. This tells any company checking your credit to take extra steps to make sure the person asking for credit is in fact you. It is free.

Some states allow you to “freeze” your credit so no one can access your credit report unless you call the credit reporting agency and give them permission to release the data.

Click here for more information on identity theft and credit reporting agencies, including form for obtaining free reports. .

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