Protect Your Identity Week: Advice comes in threes

I was fortunate enough to be a visitor to a class of small children at one of our local schools. They were reciting the alphabet and were amazed when they told the audience there are three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They get the idea and they will grow up understanding the three Rs. What a catchy phases and how much those ideas will help all of us.

There is another topic that we need to learn the three Ds—not the grades we received in school, but as it relates to Identity Theft. Deter, Detect, and Defend are the three steps that every consumer needs to learn and know how to put into action.

Identity theft is the taking of another person’s personal financial information and using to obtain goods, services, credit cards, and mortgages without your permission or your knowledge. Let go to school and learn how we can use the three Ds to prevent being a victim of identity theft.

DETER- Consider where you and your finances could be vulnerable and do all that you can to counter act the bad guys. Shred papers, keep as little as possible in your wallet, put passwords on all electronics that have any financial information.

DETECT- Review statements for all transactions, check your credit report once a year, pay attention to bills that you do not recognize–even if you share a credit card with your spouse. Call creditors if you do not receive your monthly statements on time and balance your checkbook.

DEFEND- Report any event that you suspect another person has used your personal information. Be knowledgeable of the steps you need to take should you find you have been a victim.

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Cathy Williams is a former writer for MMI.