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To reduce or minimize risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud you must learn to be careful with your personal information. Many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain our personal data without having to break into our homes. In public places, for example, criminals engage in "shoulder surfing" watching your from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number. They may also listen in on your conversation if you give your credit card number over telephone to a hotel or rental car company.
Even area near your home or office may not be secure. Some criminals engage in "dumpster diving" going through your garbage cans or dumpster at work--to obtain copies of your checks, credit card or bank statements, or other records that typically bear your name, address or telephone number. These types of records make it easier for criminals to get control over your accounts and assume your identity.
In recent years, Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identification data, such as passwords or even banking information. In their excitement to explore fascinating features of Internet, many people respond to "spam"--unsolicited E-mail--that promise them some benefit in exchange for personal identifying data. In some well-known and recent incidents, criminals have used computer technology to obtain astronomical amounts of personal data from thousands upon thousands of innocent victims.
What can you do personally, to avoid identity theft? Be stingy about giving out personal information to others. Check you financial information regularly. Periodically, ask for a copy of your credit report. Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts. And shred or burn any documents which may contain valuable, personal information.
Search Web for information about one of America's fastest growing crimes--identity theft. Don't be next victim!
Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently V.P. of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business providing valuable information on a variety of timely topics. For a court room full of advice, resources and suggestions about identity theft, visit http://www.IdentityTheftHalt.com