Your information is valuable, and if you are trying to start up your own business it can be very disheartening to find out you have been a victim of identity theft. Currently I am running my own jewelry business, but my day job is working as a fraud analyst for the company Onecall.com and when I have to make that phone call to someone who has had their credit card compromised by a thief, the conversation always leaves me with sick feeling. It is not an easy conversation, so let’s go over the basics of protecting yourself so you do not run into any issues when you are trying to setup shop.
1. Always Shred Your Information. I have had a couple of conversations with victims, and they say we always shred all of our financial documents. Then I usually respond, “Do you shred everything that has your name, number, address, and birth-date?” You would be surprised how many of those victims will say, “I didn’t think that information matter.” People who commit fraud, that’s there day job, and they are good at it. To them it’s working a piece of the puzzle, and they need just enough information to commit an account takeover or open a new account in your name. If you have a bank of america deposit envelope and a comcast flyer with your address information that may be enough for them to sweet talk the bank to getting access to your information. Protect yourself now, and become best friend with the shredder.
2. At Least Watch Your Credit Reports Once a Year. Usually towards the end of the conversation I asked them to get a copy of their credit report to make sure there is nothing else going on that they were not aware of and didn’t open, there are quite a few of those individuals who don’t know where to get their credit report because they have never gotten one in the past. This shocks me, especially working in the field that I do. There are many companies that do offer credit watch reports, many times your own bank may offer that option, but there is also a place to go for a free report every year. You are entitled by law to one free credit report a year, please check out www.annualcreditreport.com
3. Only Buy From Legit Websites and do not GIve Personal Information in Email. Companies will never ask you for your personal information when making a purchase or send you an email asking for you to verify your account information. These types of practices are called phishing….and they are a popular way for fraudsters to get a hold of your personal information. If you ever get an email like this contact the customer service department immediately by phone. Also if a site is not legit, or you can not verify if they have good security certificates when you want to buy from them I would give it a second thought before buying that “good deal”. Chances are they have a phis-hing software behind the scenes of their website and are just waiting for you to plug in your credit card information. Always buy from reputable companies.
I can not stress enough how important it is to protect yourself and your information. Stolen information can run havoc on your credit reports for years possibly causing delays in your dreams, especially dreams to help fund your new business. Be safe. Protect Yourself. I don’t like making those calls.