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Tips to Avoid ID Theft

  • Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

  • If you applied for a credit card and didn't receive it when expected, call the financial institution.

  • Sign new credit cards immediately--before someone else does.

  • Memorize your Social Security number and passwords. Don't use your date of birth as your password and don't record passwords on papers you carry with you.

  • Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.

  • Don't carry your Social Security card or birth certificate--leave them in a secure location.

  • Don't disclose credit card or other financial account numbers on a Web site unless the site offers a secure transaction. Before you input personal or financial information on a Web page, first make sure the site offers a secure--that is, encrypted--data transaction. There are two ways you can check whether a Web page provides a secure data transaction:

    1. An icon of a lock will appear in the bottom strip of the Web browser page.

    2. The URL for the Web page will change from "http" to "https" for the page at which you input the personal data.

  • Closely monitor the expiration dates on your credit cards and contact the issuer if you don't receive a replacement prior to the expiration date.

  • Beware of mail or telephone solicitations that offer prizes or awards--especially if the offeror asks you for personal information or financial account numbers.

  • Match your credit card receipts against your monthly bills and check your monthly financial statements for accuracy.

  • Watch for your monthly financial statements and bills. If you don't get them when expected, contact the sender.