Prevent Identity Theft

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Identity thieves have become so creative and talented that no truly perfect protection scheme can be a guaranteed success. There are, however, many steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of victimization. Consider these practices, all of which can stop some identity theft before it happens. Although some may be more inconvenient to implement than others, all are recommended.

Don't sign your name on your credit card - instead write "See ID". This causes a photo to be shown with the card. In the stores which have not switched to "Chip and Pin", they may not be that good at comparing signatures to the back of a card. Identity thieves cannot always be sure whether or not their signature will be compared to the one on the back of the card. In a busy store the clerk is not that careful to match your signature.
Don’t carry more than you need. Don’t carry extra check blanks, credit cards, passport and other identity you're are not planning to use that day.
Never carry your Social Security Number (or cards like medical with it on) with you unless you are going somewhere where it will be absolutely necessary.
Never use your social security number as a pass word, or place it on your checks.
Keep your PIN numbers a secret. Remember your PIN (personal identification) numbers. Do not write them down. If you must write them down, DO NOT allow that list to leave the home. People who absentmindedly scribble their PIN numbers on the back of their credit cards are inviting inappropriate use.
Choose good passwords and PIN numbers. Choose account passwords and PINs that no one else will guess. Avoid easily guessed PIN numbers or codes like birth dates, common numerical sequences, mothers maiden name, phone number, etc. Choose options no one would be able to guess even if they were privy to other parts of your personal information. Good passwords will include Capital and small letters, numbers and characters, and be at least 8 characters long.
Keep your information safe. Be vigilant about keeping your wallet or purse on your person when outside the home. At work, keep those materials in a safe and secured place don’t leave your jacket with your wallet in on the back of the chair when you go off to a meeting or lunch. At home, put documents containing personal information in a safe if you have one. Minimally, store the information in a non-obvious location.
Watch out for so-called "shoulder surfers." That person behind you in line at the ATM may just be another shopper short of cash. Or, they could be paying close attention to you in hopes of seeing your account balance and PIN number. If they like what they see, you might lose your card before you know it! Make it difficult for these criminals. Shade the monitor area with your hand when typing in your PIN and try to block others’ view of the screen. Be aware of machines below a food court etc, many thieves will take photos and video's while you enter your information. Also watch the machine itself. Some thieves have added skimming devices, in which they can duplicate your card. Try lifting the keyboard or removing a protruding card slot.
Destroy revealing documents. Don’t just throw your old billing statements and other documents containing important information into your garbage. There are "dumpster divers" who are willing to wade through old coffee grounds and rotten orange peels to get their hands on your data. Invest in a cross cut paper shredder and completely destroy such documentation. If you get a shredder make sure it’s one which doesn’t just create strips of paper which can be pieced back together. If you don’t get a shredder, at least tear the materials into small pieces. When using this strategy, some believe in a two-bag approach. They will place half of the remains of a torn document in one rubbish bag and the other half in a different trash container in the home (or, if you have a compost bin, mix part of it in with your compost). Be sure to shred pre-approved and other credit offers - Don't just toss in the trash. Many thieves will use these to appy for credit in your name at a different address. Good garbage safety practices can reduce identity theft.
Protect your snail mail. The mail transports millions of pieces of personal information every day and is one of the most common sites for identity theft activity. Get a post office box. Don't put a red flag up to have your mail picked up, mail it directly from the box inside the post office. Don't have checks mailed, pick them up at your bank.
Keep a master account record. Create and maintain a record of all of your accounts. You should record all account numbers, the business or bank’s address and telephone number and other pertinent information (like expiration dates). This will allow you quickly and easily check for problems and to take action if you ever have concerns. It also allows you to keep better track of your finances, in general.
Pay attention to bills. Many of us simply pay bills as they come, and don’t really pay attention to when they should arrive or what they should contain. Train yourself to pay attention to billing cycles. A missed statement may be nothing more than a clerical error on the part of the company, but it can also be a warning sign that your mail was intercepted or redirected. Tracking your regular billing dates will help you see warnings before it is too late.
Check your credit report on a regular basis. The identity thief will most likely try to obtain credit or store cards in the name of a victim. Many of these cards are used normally for a time with the aim of increasing the credit limit attached to the card. This means that by checking your credit file once or twice each year, it may be possible to spot credit that was not applied for by you. If you do see such a card, it is vital that you report it to the company involved, the police and the credit referencing agencies as soon as possible. Make sure to keep copies of all letters sent as they may be required at a later date to help you prove your story. You may wish to sign up for credit monitoring, the sooner you catch a problem the easier it is to fix.
Do not give out your social security / national insurance number. This number is used to identify us by government for taxation, health care and retirement benefits. It is also a number used by credit referencing agencies for identification. Should an identity thief discover a social security number, the process of credit and loan applications becomes much easier. The video shop don't need your number. Before you do give out the number ask "How it's going to be used?" and "How are they going to safe guard it?"
Protect your computer. Many identity thieves now use complex software to obtain sensitive information such as passwords and login details without the user's knowledge. A strong and regularly updated firewall and anti-virus program will provide most of the protection an individual needs.
If you get an email that tells you to check or update your information, (for any reason) do not use the link in the email. Even if the email letterhead/background looks like it came from your bank. This is a form of phishing for your information. If you think the email is real, log on directly to the company or banks web site, check your records there, if there is no changes, you just avoided being scammed.

# An interesting tactic is to write "PLEASE CHECK ID" on the back of your credit/debit card with a permanent marker, in place of the authorized signature. This is more likely to stand out, as most retailers don't check to match the signatures on the card with the credit slip anymore. Check with your credit card company before you do this though - some retailers who do check the signature may question it.
# Be very careful about giving any individual/organization multiple I.D. (Passport/Driver License/Social Security Number etc.) as well as your checking account details for any kind of transfers.
* Think carefully before you disclose sensitive personal details to other people or display them online. Many people show their date of birth and full name on social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. An identity thief actually requires only a few pieces of information to begin fraudulent activity, so guard these details carefully.

Be Careful:

# Identity thieves are now making almost anyone a target. It is even possible to use the identity of young children and the recently deceased. The only group of people who are genuinely unlikely to be targeted are those who already have poor credit or have been bankrupt. Applications for credit on behalf of these people are often very difficult.
# Studies in the UK show that the average victim will spend up to 330 hours of phone calls and letter writing to put their credit history back as it was before they were a victim.
# Chip and pin cards can be read while still in your wallet

Plan For A Healthy Pregnancy

You decided you're ready to get pregnant. Great! However, before you start trying, take a step to prepare the best possible uteri environment for your child during pregnancy.

Have a preconception checkup. This will allow your doctor to evaluate your health, review your medications,administer any necessary immunizations and help you plan a lifestyle changes necessary for a health pregnancy. This is specially important if you have a chronic health condition, or if either you or your partner has a family history of a serious inherited disorder.

Begin taking a prenatal vitamin with polic acid. This B vitamin helps prevent a serious birth defects in early pregnancy.

Make healthy lifestyle choices. Eat nutritious foods,exercise regularly and keep stress under control. These same habits will serve you and your baby well during pregnancy.

If You smoke or use tobacco product, stop. Tobacco changes the cervical mucus, which may keep your partner's sperm from reaching your egg. Smoking may also increase the risk of miscarriage. If you need help stopping smoking, ask your doctor about resources to help you quite.

Stop Drinking alcohol. If you use illicit drugs ,stop using those too.

Have your partner adopt a healthy lifestyle, too. A healthy family will make for a healthier baby.

Beat Adult Dyslexia

People generally consider that adult dyslexia is a disease that cannot be cured. Most people think that there is no permanent treatment that is available to overcome these learning disabilities. However, such considerations are only based on assumptions and have nothing to do with the truth. You should not accept such misconceptions as the veritable truth. The modern advancements in the field of medicine and technology have given us an array of therapies, training and equipment that can be used to beat dyslexia.

With a little amendment in learning strategies, even a person affected with adult dyslexia can improve his or her reading and writing skills. It is very important for us to understand that every human being is different. Different brains are wired differently. You cannot expect everyone to be an expert in only one field. Some students are good at Mathematics while there are others who are good at literature or other subjects. Even if a person is affected with adult dyslexia, it can mean that they will be weak learners in just one aspect- reading or writing. From no angle would it mean that they are dumb and worthless. They may be good and highly talented in some other fields that do not involve reading and writing, such as painting etc. The amendment in learning strategies must be made on the basis of the unique talent that the person possesses. Thus, the first task is to study the person and identify his or her considerable strengths.

  • Feelings of rejection are normal with dyslexia. In general, a person with dyslexia does not get a good response from their surroundings. People at school, in their neighborhood, and even immediate family, often start to taunt them or ridicule them, considering them to be dumb and stupid. Such behavior can have a severe impact on his or her self-confidence, causing feelings of isolation and rejection. Therefore, once the problem is identified, through a dyslexia test, proper actions must be taken showing that they have the talent to achieve success. It can be difficult to win self-confidence back but that is why this is the stage that must be won before coping is possible.

    • One way to improve the reading and writing skills of someone who has dyslexia, is by focusing on building the phonetic decoding skills. Since dyslexia causes slower reading, teaching to break words into their basic sounds and then rearrange these sounds to produce different words is very beneficial. Such training will gradually help the an adult dyslexia with dyslexia learn to read more accurately and at a higher speed.

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