Monday, December 12, 2011

Inexpensive, Effective Tips for Protecting Your Identity (Part 1)

Inexpensive, Effective Tips for Protecting Your Identity (Part 1)
The Federal Trade Commission, estimates that somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 million Americans experience the horrible ordeal of having their identities stolen each year – a number that is growing by the hour.
Inasmuch as I wish no one would ever have to deal with the quite costly and cumbersome aftermath of this insidious crime, identity thieves are, unfortunately, REAL. And they have come up with countless, unassuming schemes (with new methods being discovered daily) that make it possible to rent apartments, obtain credit cards, sign up for cable TV and just about anything in their victims’ names.
So how do you ensure the safety of your personal information? Personally, (and I’m not an expert on this), I don’t think there’s any silver bullet, but I believe that by implementing these simple, everyday steps, you can greatly increase your chances of not becoming the easy prey of these good-for-nothing idiots who think they should make a living out of stealing other people’s credit and identities.
Tip #1: Understand that legitimate institutions will not and should not ask you to provide sensitive personal information via email. So, no matter how “official and legitimate” it may seem to you, DO NOT respond to any emails requesting personal information, such as your social security number, user IDs, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.
In that same spirit, NEVER release your personal information over the telephone, unless you initiated the call – as in, you dialed the institution’s number and know exactly whom you’re talking to.
Tip #2: Make a habit of reviewing all your account statements immediately after you receive them. Please pay attention to the transactions reported and be sure to promptly report any mistakes to your financial institution(s). 
Tip #3: Keep all documents containing your personal information in a secure place. It may be true that you live by yourself and that you allow only those you trust into your home, but there have been many cases of breached trust that resulted in stolen identities. Besides, keeping those critical information in a secure place does not necessarily mean you don’t trust people – it’s just good, old common sense.
Oh, and while on that subject of trust, remember to shred such documents before disposing of them, because some bad folks make a living out of Dumpster-diving, and you do not want them gaining access to your personal information.
Tip #4: Review your credit report for inaccuracies and unauthorized activity. Be sure to check and double-check for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, because someone else could have contacted them claiming to be you.
Everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report – each year – from the three major nationwide credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), so that could be a great starting point. The caveat here is that you must actually ask for your free report by calling (877) 322-8228 or visiting
Tip #5: Make sure your computer has security software and firewalls with the latest updates. Almost all security software has automatic update features, but to be sure and for the sake of safety, which by the way is the whole idea here, double-check that yours is configured to routinely perform those updates.

In my next post, I’ll share Tip #6 through #10, all of which are simple yet very effective ways of shielding your personal information from bad guys and gals.
Contact a financial professional at Laser Financial Group today to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation consulation to review your financial goals and the best ways to reach them. 877.656.9111 or

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