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Here in New England, thousands of people have been forced to deal with fraudulent credit card charges that have been showing up on their credit cards from all over the world. It seems that one of our major retailing corporations had their customer records hacked into. They initially claimed no personal information had been stolen, however very soon thereafter, customer after customer had strange charges begin showing up on their accounts. This retail corporation has stores in many locations, and it hasn't been announced yet if the thefts have been contained to New England customers or if it's more widespread.
My fiance's daughter has had a credit card for years but had never used it, until recently that is. She decided to build up some credit history, so she made some small purchases using her credit card to do just that. Unfortunately, she chose to shop at one of this corporation's stores. And now she's scared she, too, will be caught up in this stolen credit card problem.
There have been a couple of major banking instituitions in the Boston area that were forced into making announcements that their computers had had security breaches several months ago. Fortunately for their customers, no personal information had been effected in this situations.
It is a scary world out there we find ourselves living in. I find myself wondering why these people who are involved in stolen identities don't take their skills and talents and put them to good use instead of theft. They have to be pretty talented to hack into the corporations that they do, as you assume there are some pretty heavy-duty security systems in place. So those hackers must be smart and skilled at what they're doing. Why do they choose crime?
Because I've been a little concerned about trying to protect myself from having my identity stolen, I've been keeping information on things I can do to try to that from happening to me. These tips have come from a variety of sources over the last year or so, and because of the recent stolen credit card problems and with my fiance's daughter being fearful of being caught up in it, I thought I'd pull them together and share them here in the hopes that this may help prevent as much identity theft as possible.
** NEVER give any of your personal information out to anyone over the phone unless you know for absolute certainty that the person you're speaking with is from a legitimate company. This information includes - social security number, bank account information, credit or debit card account information, or any other personal information that might be requested of you.
** NEVER open email messages or attachments that come from someone that you don't know. These can be embedded with viruses that can steal your personal information.
** NEVER respond to any email message that asks that you confirm any account information. Companies you do business with will NEVER contact you by email to ask this kind of information of.
** DO NOT give out your personal information on shopping websites UNLESS the website address begins with "https" and that also displays a little lock icon in the bottom right corner of the site you're on. Note the "S" at the end of the first part of the website address - this must be there in order for the page to be secure where you insert your personal information. If you don't see the "https" and the lock icon, DO NOT type in your personal info.
** Watch your mail, and know when bills and invoices should be coming in each month. After you've paid your bills, SHRED them. Other things to shred instead of just throwing into the trash would be credit card applications (all those credit cards that seem to just show up), all bank & financial statements, any medical bills, etc. Anything that has information about you on it goes into the shredder. Make yourself get into the habit of doing this. Shredders come in all sizes and price ranges, so anyone can go buy one for their home and/or office.
** When shopping, consider using credit cards instead of debit cards. Your credit card company offers security protection, and if you notify them of unauthorized charges, you typically are not liable for those charges.
** Immediately call your credit card company or banking instituition if you see any charges you didn't make on your account. If you receive bills or collection letters for services or items you didn't buy, follow up immediately with those companies to see what's going on.
On the news just this morning was a story about a woman in the Boston area who's identity was stolen, and the thieves who stole her ID used that information to buy 2 houses. She became aware of this when she began getting notices about missed mortgage payments. What a mess she's now found herself in!
I hope these tips are helpful and that NONE of us finds ourselves having to deal with stolen personal information. It is always better to be safe than sorry - please take great care of your information - it's YOURS.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.