Scam artists are constantly finding new ways to steal your identity and take your money. Here are five steps you can take this year to make their job more difficult.
* Protect your computer. Internet scams are the fastest growing type of f…raud. Start your protection by installing software to guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious bugs. These can be used to steal your personal data or direct you to bogus websites. Remember to update your protection regularly.
* Clean out your wallet or purse. Make sure you’re not carrying PIN numbers for debit or credit cards written on a scrap of paper. If you do, anyone stealing your wallet will have open access to your accounts. Sign all your cards. Don’t carry your social security card with you.
* Delete all spam e-mails immediately, preferably without opening them. Never click on an attachment or follow a link to a Web page unless you know the sender. List your telephone number on the national “do not call” list. If a telephone solicitor calls, ask to be put on their “do not call” list and then hang up.
* Obtain a free copy of your credit report. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and order a free copy of your credit report from at least one of the three major agencies. Review it for mistakes, accounts you don’t recognize, or strange credit inquiries. If you find something wrong, report it immediately.
* Don’t become a phishing victim. “Phishing” refers to bogus e-mails or telephone calls that trick you into disclosing personal or financial information. It may be an e-mail claiming to be from your bank, a retailer, or a government agency. They may ask you to update account information. Or it could be a call from someone claiming to be a bank security officer, who wants to confirm your PIN. Never reveal personal data on the Internet or the phone unless you’ve initiated the contact and you know who you’re dealing with.
Written by: Doug Rodrigues