Protect Your Identity For Free

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There are so many businesses out there that will protect your identity. For a fee.

However, you can actually do a better job of it yourself. For free.

While some of the steps may seem a little extreme, you need to remember that around 33.4 million Americans have been victims of identity fraud since 1990. You need to take those drastic steps to protect yourself and your family from identity theft.

Most people have to start by changing many simple things. The first, and most basic, thing to change involves your Social Security Number. Now I know that it used to be printed on your checks, written on your work or school id and on your medical chart at the doctor’s office. But now it is too risky to use it for those purposes anymore.

Identity theives are specifically looking for your Social Security Number. With it, they can pretty much access all of your accounts. They can get your creidt, insurance coverage and a lot of other financial transactions. It is what says you are who you are.

Memorize your Social Security Number (and those of your spouse and children) and don’t ever carry the card with you. Don’t write it down. Don’t give it out when your write a check (use your driver’s license number instead). Don’t give it to anyone who calls you first. You should only use it for employment and credit applications.

If you have an account that uses your Social Security Number, such as a student loan, ask that they use a different account number instead.

If someone asks for your Social Security Number, ask why they need it, how it will be used and how it will be protected. Find out what would happen if you didn’t supply them with it.

You should also protect your driver’s license number, address, telephone number, credit card numbers and other financial accounts from others as well. Try not to make information sensitive phone calls on your cell phone where you can be overheard.

You need to change your passwords and PINs frequently for accounts that you access both on and off the internet. Don’t write these numbers or passwords down. Make them easy for you to remember, but hard for anyone else. Many advisors suggest that you take a phrase and use the first letter of each word for your password. This makes it very hard for someone to guess it. For example, you could take the phrase: I hate coming up with passwords, and make it into a password of: IHcuWP. Just don’t write it down!!!

Everyone should own a shredder and use it. Shred every piece of paper you throw away. This includes receipts, credit card offers, unused convenience checks, replaced credit cards and all statements from financial institutions.

Store your papers in a safe deposit box. You might want to include your tax documents, copies of all your credit cards and the names, numbers and accounts numbers of all your financial relationships. This way, if something does happen to your home or your wallet, you can easily access all of your information. For information you store at home, such as receipts and statements, invest in a safe for your paperwork.

Most people who have their homes broken into today will tell you that the theives usually target their paperwork and their computers. They are looking to take more than what is in your home. They are looking for your credit and money as well.

Martin Lukac represents http://www.RateEmpire.com and http://www.1AmericanFinancial.com, a finance web-company specializing in real estate and mortgage rates. We specialize in daily updates, mortgage news, rate predictions, mortgage rates and more. Find low home loan mortgage interest rates from hundreds of mortgage companies!

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