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How to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft, in which a thief uses someone else’s name and Social Security number to pile up charges, is one of the fastest-growing crimes. More than 1,000 people a day are being defrauded nationwide.

The following suggestions can reduce the changes of being victimized:

  • Close all unused credit-card accounts.
  • Never leave credit card or ATM receipts behind, or throw them into public trashcans. Tear them up and throw them away at home.
  • Beware of preapproved credit offers. If you decide you don’t want it, tear it up before throwing it away because it contains personal information.
  • Consider an unlisted telephone number. Identity thieves often get their information from phone books.
  • Check your credit report once a year by contacting a credit bureau: Equifax, 800-685-1111; Experian (formerly TRW), 800-682-7654; and TransUnion, 800-888-4213.
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