Thursday, January 22, 2009

Preventing Identity Theft
Take These Simple Steps to Protect Your Personal and Corporate Identity

By Christine Emmick

Identity theft is something most people do not think about until it is too late. Identity theft statistics show over two-hundred-thousand people fall victim to this crime each year just in the United States alone. With these numbers growing, identity theft prevention is more important than ever. Here are some ways you can protect yourself from identity thieves.
Use your credit card instead of your debit card. Credit cards tend to carry more identity theft protection, such as zero-liability for unauthorized purchases. After just two days you may be liable for up to $500 in unauthorized charges on your debit card, and after 60 days you may be liable for all of it.
Choose just one credit card for your everyday purchases. When buying all your personal and corporate supplies, it’s smart to stick with one card instead of spreading the balance over multiple accounts. When you use multiple cards, you are putting each of those accounts at risk for fraud. Also, be sure you monitor the activity on that card closely.
Check your balance frequently. Also consider setting spending limit alerts with your credit card company. Most credit card companies offer an alert service that automatically contacts you when a large charge is made to your account. Contact your credit card company’s online service department to see what type of alerts they offer.
Use an identity theft protection service with fraud alert. There are several companies, like Fair Isaac’s myFiCO, which will help you monitor your credit report and alert you when a possible fraud attempt is made. Some will even back you monetarily, reimbursing you for the losses you’ve suffered at the identity thief’s hand.
Be cautious when opening new retail credit card accounts. It may seem like a great idea to take advantage of that discount, but some retail workers may not be as careful with your sensitive financial information as they should, especially during busy seasonal times. As an aside, each credit inquiry from a lender lowers your credit score, eventually limiting your financing choices.
Check your credit report often. Make sure all the information is correct, including your contact as well as your credit information. Under federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and ask what the procedure is to get your free report.
Take a credit class. This gives you a good overview of what you will find on your credit report, helps you understand what affects your credit rating and tunes you in on how much damage is caused by identity theft. Credit and You is a class that covers the how to on preventing identity theft, how your credit score is determined as well as how to improve this credit score. This course is available from Staged for Success and for a limited time offered at over half off the regular price. Call 877-615-3294 or visit the website to register.
Following these simple rules reduces your chance of becoming a victim of identity theft drastically. Preventing identity theft does not happen by accident. Know your credit score, monitor your credit activity, and educate yourself about the credit process and identity thieves will shop somewhere else for their next victim.

Content sponsored by Staged for Success, a full service home and business staging company serving the greater Pittsburgh area. For more information about Staged for Success, visit their website at
Christine Emmick is a freelance business and real estate writer based in the Pittsburgh area. You may contact Christine through her blog site at

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