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Ten Simple Ways to Protect Your Identity

The BBB is hosting a 'Secure Your ID Day' free shredding event on Oct. 20 in Southfield.

Identity theft is a serious concern; in fact in 2011 more than 11 million adults became victims of identity fraud in the U.S.  But don’t despair — there are many precautions you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

For example, shredding is one of the most effective ways to dispose of sensitive records, documents or information. This is why we are hosting our Secure Your ID Day on Oct. 20 in Southfield.  We are urging residents to take the time to come in and shred sensitive documents that could otherwise put them at risk. It is important to know how long to keep certain documents prior to shredding however, so we have posted a handy records retention schedule from the IRS on our site for you to review.

In addition, Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) of Michigan will be on hand to collect computer hard drives, printers, copiers, scanners, desktops, laptops, keyboards, mice, cell phones, DVD and VCR players, free of charge, to be destroyed or recycled.

Shredding is only one of the efforts you can take however — below are a few more tips that can help:

  1. Cut up expired credit and debit cards by cutting through the numbers.
  2. Secure your personal documents at home and shred them when they are no longer needed.
  3. Minimize the personal information you print on checks.
  4. Monitor your bank and credit card transactions for unauthorized transactions.
  5. Don’t create obvious passwords.
  6. If you conduct business online, use your own computer.
  7. Never respond to emails requesting to “verify” your personal information and identifiers.
  8. Never use e-mail to communicate sensitive personal information.
  9. Keep your computer system and browser software up to date, and set to the highest security level you can tolerate.
  10. Check your credit report at least once a year by calling 877-322-8228 or visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Finally, if you have become a victim, notify all necessary parties immediately. If your credit cards are lost or stolen, notify your credit providers by phone and then notify each of the three credit bureaus to request a “Fraud Alert” be placed on your file. If you’ve become of victim of a phishing scam, notify the companies with whom you have the exposed accounts right away and follow the instructions at the FTC web site.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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