Locking Out Identity Thieves

Locking Out Identity Thieves

(NewsUSA)- Most Americans lock their doors, but identity thieves rarely climb through windows.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft happens to 9 million Americans each year.
Identity thieves steal credit cards and wallets, or use machines to store numbers at ATMs. Thieves pose as companies on the phone or through e-mail, tricking people into revealing personal information. They can steal mail, taking information from pre-approved credit cards and financial statements.
Identity-theft victims can lose money and good credit ratings. They find themselves charged for apartments they don't rent, products they didn't buy and crimes they didn't commit. Straightening out an identity theft can take years and leave innocents unable to get jobs or loans.
People protect their homes. Likewise, they need to protect their identities.
People should shred personal documents, refuse to give out personal identification via phone or e-mail and avoid using passwords that feature their birthdate, mother's maiden name or the last four digits of their social security number.
Federal laws require each nationwide consumer reporting company to give people free credit reports every 12 months. Consumers can stagger free credit reports across those companies, allowing people to see new credit reports every few months.
Americans can opt out of pre-approved credit and insurance offers by calling a toll-free number or visiting www.optoutprescreen.com.
Some services make tracking financial information easy.
One secure, software-based planning system, The Estate Vault (www.estatevault.com), helps users consolidate their financial information, including credit cards.
People need to track their credit card information, noting late or missing bills, unexpected account changes or letters about purchases they didn't make. Using a secure online system can help people notice changed financial information quickly.
The Estate Vault also offers its users up to $25,000 in identity-theft insurance, which can be used to cover lost wages, refiling loans and legal fees.
To learn more about computer-based estate security, visit www.estatevault.com. The Estate Vault trades on the NASDAQ OTC under the symbol TEVI.