Tuesday, November 25, 2008

7 Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information

When it comes to keeping your identity and finances protected, it is essential for you to know how to responsibly handle your sensitive information. Even the simplest of actions could put your finances at a significant risk. Therefore, in order to keep yourself better protected, be certain to follow these simple steps for handling your information in a responsible manner.

Tip #1: Review, Review, Review
Each time you receive a bank, credit card or phone statement, be certain to check it carefully for unauthorized use. The sooner you notice and report improper use, the better your chances of catching the thief and putting an end to the problem.

Tip #2: Go Automatic
An increasing number of companies are allowing customers to make automatic payments rather than sending out statements. Take advantage of this option in order to reduce the number of paper bills and checks going through the mail. You should also consider using the Internet for paying bills and conducting your banking transactions in order to reduce the amount of paperwork containing your personal information.

Tip #3: Get Shredding
Any time you throw away personal documents, be certain to shred them first. This advise holds true when it comes to pre-approved credit card offers, as a thief can use one of these offers to apply for a card in your name.

Tip #4: Use Gel Pens
Oddly enough, using a gel pen when writing your checks can help keep you protected from fraudsters. This is because gel ink contains tiny particles of color, which get trapped in the paper and make it more difficult to engage in check washing.

Tip #5: Watch Your Digits
Some banks will automatically assign the last for digits of a customer's social security number as his or her PIN. If your bank engages in this practice, be certain to change your PIN right away. You should also consider talking with a bank representative and requesting that this practice be abandoned.

Tip #6: Check on Business Practices
Before completing applications or using your credit card to make purchases, learn more about how the business stores or disposes of your personal information. When filling out a loan application, for example, the company should keep your application locked up or shred it if your loan is not approved. Similarly, businesses should keep your credit card information locked up where it cannot be easily accessed by a thief. If you are not convinced that the business is careful with your personal information, take your business elsewhere.

Tip #7: Store Checks Safely
If you have canceled or duplicate checks, be certain to store them in a safe location. Checks typically contain some very sensitive information, including your account number, your phone number and possibly your driver's license. Use caution storing this information in a rented storage locker, as storage lockers are frequently targeted by robbers.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for www.reliacredit.com . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit www.reliacredit.com

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