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Protecting Your Identity

The number of identity theft cases continues to rise.

The June 2012 Consumer Reports Magazine focused on tips and products to help you protect your privacy.  They reported that 16 million households have been victims of identity theft over the past year (up almost 50%).  Census bureau data for the same year shows that there were 114.8 million households total, so roughly 14% of U.S. households experienced identity theft in the past year.

Also included in the Consumer Reports Magazine were privacy tips for Facebook users:

  • Know that insurers, employers, enemies, criminals, and government investigators (such as the IRS) are watching Facebook activity.
  • Think before you type – even deleted accounts can stay active for awhile.
  • Protect basic information and be careful of “friends of friends” information sharing.
  • “UnPublic” your Facebook wall so that only your friends may see your posts.
  • Turn off Tag Suggest in your privacy settings

What to do if your identity is stolen:

  • Contact all three credit bureaus and issue a fraud alert.  Check your credit report to make sure there are not items you don’t recognize.
  • Provide each agency’s fraud unit with a copy of your driver’s license in order to register an affidavit.
  • Contact the proper authorities in writing.
  • Inform the police department, Social Security Administration (800-269-0271), and all creditors you have accounts with.

The three credit bureaus are:

  1. Equifax 800-525-6285
  2. Experian 888-397-3742
  3. Transunion 800-680-7289

Additional tips for protecting yourself:

  • Even if you haven’t had your identity stolen, you should still check your credit report each year.  Visit to get one free copy of your report per credit bureau per year.
  • Be careful of which emails you open and be wary of any hyperlink in any email.
  • Use a credit card over a checkbook or debit card.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or number around with you.
  • Shred documents with personal information on them when they need to be discarded.
  • Look for the https at the beginning of a hyperlink when shopping online.  This indicates a secure site.

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