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How to Guard Against Identity Theft
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Guarding against identity theft adds one more item to your “to do” list, but there are measures available to help busy women protect their families

Imagine you are pulled over for a routine traffic violation. You’ve just finished picking up the groceries for dinner. You’re late to scoop up your daughter from her soccer game. And your infant son is wailing in the back seat.

Then the nice-looking police officer drops a not-so-nice big one: “Ma’am, you’re going to have to come with me,apostrophe he says. “We’ve got a warrant out for your arrest.apostrophe

It seems like a far-fetched scenario, but more and more innocent women are being victimized everyday by identity thieves. These anonymous cowards manage to acquire personal information, use it to secure credit cards, driver’s licenses or other identification documents – and then use those documents during the execution of a crime. It all ends up making the victim look like a criminal. And it’s happening everyday.

Unfortunately, protecting yourself from this crime has become as necessary as locking your front door or installing a security system at your home.

“It’s terrible because we all have such busy lives these days,apostrophe said Justin Yurek, president of Identity Rehab, an identity theft detection and resolution company. “But unfortunately, taking the time to protect yourself from identity theft is no longer a luxury.apostrophe

A company that specializes in helping consumers avoid and recover from the sting of identity theft, Identity Rehab counsels people to take precautionary measures against the crime. The following recommendations, Yurek said, may add a few minutes to your regular routine but will be invaluable in the long run:

    • Keep a close eye on your personal information. By monitoring your personal reports regularly, you will be aware of any incorrect information that could signal identity theft, personal or computer error.
    • Secure your mail. A variety of mailboxes protect incoming and outgoing mail from theft. Some have locks or keypads with combinations that you can share with your post office. Others feature mail slots that allow you to insert letters into the box but prevent letters from being taken out of it until you unlock the whole unit.
    • Shred your trash. Buy a paper/document shredder for destroying any trash that contains a password, an account number or any type of personal information that should be treated with caution. Some shredders will even chop credit cards. Otherwise, use a sharp pair of scissors to make several small pieces of the card.
    • Photocopy your passport and contents of your wallet and store in a safe place. Copy both sides of your driver’s license and all credit cards should you need to call and cancel cards or replace a lost or stolen license. Carry a photocopy of your passport when traveling either domestically or abroad. And if you ever receive a letter concerning a possible breach of security from your bank, post office, or any institution you deal with, make a copy of that, too. If someone does steal your identity, this information will assist in a rapid identity recovery.
    • Change account numbers. If you feel that any of your accounts may have been compromised, do not hesitate to change the account number. This applies to credit cards, bank accounts, utilities, cell phones, medical insurance, car insurance and anything else that may be linked to your money. Also, make sure that your account numbers do not contain any part of your Social Security Number.
    “These are the most basic tools a consumer can use to protect themselves – and they’re extremely important,apostrophe Yurek said. “Once a person has been victimized the process of recovery becomes much more complex and time consuming.apostrophe

    In fact, the U.S. Treasury Department reports that the average ID theft victim spends more than $7,500 and between four to six months to clear their name. And when you fall victim, there’s almost no easy way to single-handedly resolve all the issues that arise from the crime. Resources available at the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site (www.consumer.gov/idtheft) help walk a victim through the recovery process and how they can resolve the crime. However, the process can be confusing and frustrating without an understanding of the complexities involved.

    To help fill the knowledge gap, companies like Identity Rehab (http://www.identityrehab.com/) provide a variety of expert services to help consumers monitor their personal information, identify if they’ve been victimized and work with reporting agencies to correct and resolve any fraudulent or inaccurate data that results from identity theft. Many times, expert advice helps victims resolve the crime sooner and with less expense than if they attempt to do so on their own.

    “No matter how they choose to deal with identity theft, we always tell consumers how vital it is to know what their credit reports, medical records, DMV records and other information databases contain,apostrophe Yurek said. “These databases are used by companies and organizations to make decisions about their life and their family. Inaccurate information can force some very serious consequences.apostrophe

    About Identity Rehab Identity Rehab was created with the idea that consumers should have control over their personal information. In today’s data-intense environment, corporate America, financial companies, government agencies and other decision makers have control over consumers’ personal information. Countless databases with private data about consumers are tapped everyday to determine and gauge credit ratings, insurance premiums and availability, driving privileges – even criminal backgrounds. When false or incorrect information appears on these databases, a consumer is very often powerless to refute these inaccuracies. Identity Rehab provides data monitoring, identity theft detection and identity theft resolution services to put the power back into the hands of consumers. For more information, call 1-800-970-5182 or visit www.IdentityRehab.com.