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Consumer Tip: Minimizing ID theft risk

Monday, August 19, 2002

By Kathy Jo Pollack

Start with your wallet. Carry only absolute necessities. Do not carry all of your credit cards, Social Security card, passport or birth certificate unless needed.

Practice "store or destroy" by immediately storing or shredding paperwork, including pre-approved offers, receipts, statements and other personal information. Promptly remove your mail from the mailbox and monitor billing/ banking statement cycles.

Ask questions before giving personal information. Inquire why your Social Security number is needed. Ask if something else may be used instead. Also, you have the right to tell financial institutions not to share your information. Ask for privacy policies and opt-out. Get a jump on this by opting out with the three credit bureaus at 1-888-567-8688.

Lastly, get your credit reports from all three credit bureaus at least once per year. Scrutinize the information and promptly dispute inaccuracies.

This is the third of four installments on ID theft:

Week one: Preventing ID theft

Week two: How ID theft occurs

Next week: What to do if you are a victim.


Kathy Jo Pollack is the education training specialist for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western Pennsylvania. For more on ID theft, attend a free seminar at CCCS on Sept. 10, 1-888-511-2227, ext. 145, or track the ID theft tips by searching for Consumer Tip at www.post-gazette.com/yourbiz.

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