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Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. It is happening to celebrities as well as everyone else.

Identity theft is the unauthorized use of a person's identifying information to open new financial accounts or use your existing accounts to steal your money or charge items leaving you with the bills. Even though there are laws prohibiting this type of activity, you should take care to avoid becoming a victim.

Identity thieves are most interested in the personal information that would enable them to pass as you. This may include such information as your Social Security numbers, date of birth, mother's maiden name or your existing account numbers at your financial institutions.

Identity thieves will try to get this information in many ways:

  • Stealing wallets or purses with everything in them.
  • Taking mail from your mailbox, especially bank statements and credit card statements.
  • Diverting your mail by using a change of address form at the Post Office.
  • Searching through your trash for tossed copies of statements.
  • Posing as a representative of your financial institution on the phone and asking about your account.

To keep your information private, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Carry as few credit cards as possible and periodically check to make sure you still have them.
  2. Avoid carrying your Social Security card and passport unless they are needed.
  3. Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks.
  4. Shred important papers that contain financial information or personal identifying information before disposing of them.
  5. Dispose of credit card and ATM receipts properly.
  6. Sign new credit cards when you receive them.
  7. Guard your PIN (personal identification number).
  8. Make your PIN and passwords hard for someone else to guess. Don't use your birth date, phone number or last four digits of your Social Security number.
  9. Keep a list of credit card and financial account numbers along with their contact phone numbers in a safe place.
  10. Guard against mail theft by mailing payment envelopes from a locked collection box instead of raising the flag on your home mailbox.
  11. Never give personal information over the phone unless you made the call or you know with whom you are speaking.
  12. Review your financial and credit card statements carefully for unknown transactions. If you notice any unknown transactions, call the issuing financial institution or credit card company immediately.
  13. Periodically order credit reports from the three major credit bureaus and review them carefully. You may have to pay for them, but unauthorized accounts would probably show up.

Check your credit at:

Experian: www.experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
Equifax: www.equifax.com, 1-800-685-1111
TransUnion: www.transunion.com, 1-800-888-4213

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

While there are no guarantees that these steps will prevent identity thieves from attacking you, the harder you make it for them to steal your identity, the less likely you are to become a victim.

Find out more about the ways we can help. Send us an email or call 301-249-1800 or toll-free 1-888-NASA-FCU (1-888-627-2327).

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