Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Safety Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft

The Real Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Almost everyone knows the story of the odd looking Grinch who set out to stop Christmas in Who-ville by stealing everything right down to the presents, the ribbons, the tags, the tinsel, the trimmings and everything to do with Christmas. Today here in Who-ville, or I mean Jerome, there is a new Grinch that is out to steal your Christmas. Unlike the story, this Grinch is not green and doesn’t come to town on an oversized sled pulled by an undersized dog. This Grinch may look like you or me and may even steal your Christmas from thousands of mile away; for the Grinch of our story is the person that is out to steal your identity. Identity thieves can be particularly active during the holiday season. Here are a few tips to help prevent you from having your Christmas stolen by the Identity Theft Grinch.

* Make sure you know who you are dealing with and don’t give out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them.

* Never give out personal information over the telephone such as your date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name or information that may be used to verify your identity. Your bank of financial institution will not call you and ask for this type of information.

* Don’t reply to e-mails requesting your personal information in order to receive a prize or gift.

* Be careful about posting too much personal information on social networking sites.

* Never send money to someone who promises a cash prize, inheritance, or other large sum of money in return.

* If offered a credit card, prize, or other valuable item and asks for your personal information, request that they send you a written application form.

* If you are leaving home for more than a few days, arrange for someone to pick up your mail.

* Check your bank statements, credit card statements, and financial information regularly and look for any unfamiliar activity.

* Always maintain control of your credit cards and financial transaction cards. Never loan them to anyone.

* Invest in a shredder and shred any mail or items that have personal information before you dispose of them.

* Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!

For more information or to report identity theft, go to the Federal Trade Commission web site at

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