Beware of Bogus Emails Claiming you Need to Verify or Change your Passwords

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How Identity Theft Can Ruin Your Drive Home
Guest Blogger: Marc Woolf

Just picture yourself driving home from a business trip on a cold December

Your cell phone rings but you don't recognize the number displayed on the
caller ID. You answer your phone and the caller exclaims that you've won his
online auction for a PlayStation 2™, and urges you to send him $450.00 that
afternoon so he can ship the item in time for Christmas.

You're puzzled because you didn't bid for any items on the popular auction
site. You tell the caller you don't know what he's talking about, dismiss it as
a random event and hang up.

An hour and a half later, your cell phone rings again. Same story -
unfamiliar number and a caller telling you that, as the successful high bidder,
you need to send him hundreds of dollars immediately so he can ship you the
PlayStation 2™ in time for Christmas.

By now your heart is starting to beat faster and your brain is working
overtime trying to figure out what's going on. After five more calls just like
the previous two, you start to panic because you know what happened...

Someone pilfered your personal finance information and you've become a victim of identity theft.

How did it happen?

In this case the thieves sent the unsuspecting driver an email prompting him to change his auction site password. What the identity theft victim didn't realize was that the email originated from a criminal, not the auction site. He had unknowingly bid on every auction of its type on the popular site!

How do you safeguard your personal finance information?

Here's what NOT to do:
1. Do Not respond to emails from banks, financial institutions, auction sites, etc. that ask you to change or verify your account information and passwords.

2. Do Not volunteer personal finance information over the phone.

3. Do Not mail bills from home or a common mailbox in your apartment building. Always place mail in a postal service mail box or take it to the post office.

Here's what to DO:
1. Examine your credit card statement before paying the bill.
2. Copy your driver's license, credit card, health insurance information, etc. in case your purse or wallet is stolen.
3. Monitor your credit report.
4. Crosscut shred pre-approved credit card offers, old bank statements or any correspondence containing private personal finance information.

If you become a victim of identity theft, close the accounts that have been tampered with, contact the vendor or retailer involved, get in touch with area law enforcement agencies and access your credit reports and place a fraud alert.

By the way, the story you just read is true... it happened to me just one year ago.
By:Marc Woolf

For more tips on how best to avoid scams Read prior blog: Fraud & Phishing Scams...

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