A near-empty bank account for Paypal or other
online payment services is a very good idea. . .
Me, I just *refuse* to hook up any bank account
to my Paypal and the credit card I do use with
Paypal is one for which the activity can be
monitored online. I don't see new charges at the
end of the month, I see them *immediately*.
But some important tips on preventing identity
theft are as follows:
Completely shred any unused credit card offers
received in the mail. Better, call 1-800-5-OPT-OUT
(this is a US number only, I think) to stop
receiving them in the first place. Reduces junk
mail for you AND eliminates one place identity
theives can find you. I did it - it's legitamate
and it WORKS.
Carry only ONE credit card. If you *need* more
than one, keep it to two. The more different
credit cards you have, the more places there are
that someone can look up your information.
Get OFF as many mailing lists as you can. If you
get a solicitation over the telephone, have this
quote memorized: "This number accepts no
solicitations. Take me off your list." The first
part especially contains the magic words after
which they legally MUST remove you from the list.
Believe me - try it and in five months, almost no
call will be a telemarketer.
Also keep yourself off new mailing lists. If you
MUST fill out a form with your name and address,
etc, always put next to the information in bold
black ink: "NO MAILING LISTS". Tell EVERYONE with
your information that you do not wish to receive
ANY non-essential mailings, and when signing up
for accounts online watch for "yes I want
junkmail" checkboxes that need to be unchecked!
Do not use your social security number for
ANYTHING - not your driver's licence, school ID,
or passwords for bank accounts/etc. I believe
it's still free to ask the DMV to issue you a new
licence number (which will start with an 'S') if
your licence still carries your SS#. If you have
an 'S' licence number, that's the ONLY thing
someone needs if you get into a car accident. (I
had someone hit me in the car and on seeing the
'S' number, began to demand she needed my real
SS#. I refused to give it. Good thing I knew
better - her info was completely bogus when I
tried to contact her later about the "accident".)
Never give out your social security number for
anything that doesn't require it - demand to be
issued a random number.
Do not send credit card numbers over the internet
more than once if possible. A lot of cel dealers
will happily keep that information in their
private files so you don't have to resend it -
including but not limited to: Yann, Curt at
Asylum, Ed Noonchester Artwork, AnimeEd, and
either Mandarake store (LA or JP). Only send your
credit card info over a secure line. If you need
to fax it, and your fax machine says the fax was
successfull, have the store in question confirm
they *DID* receive the fax.
NEVER share e-mail accounts!! There is NO reason
to do so anymore. Most ISPs offer multiple
individual accounts with a single membership - I
can have up to *six* with my ISP. If your ISP
doesn't allow it, IE will allow you to set up
multiple accounts off a single membership.
Never share auction IDs - for Ebay IDs, always
investigate anyone requesting your information.
(Ebay will notify you if someone does this.)
And then the obvious: NEVER give out any personal
information that you don't have to. If you don't
need to use your real name, don't. (Online forms
for sites like EZboard happily accept "Drac" as
my real name.) Never give out unless necessary:
address, SS# (can't stress enough!), mother's
maiden name, exact date of birth, PIN numbers for
bank accounts, passwords for online accounts.
Don't use your mother's maiden name as an access
OK with your bank. (If someone tried to use my
mother's maiden name to access my bank account
information, they'd be denied.) Same with credit
cards. Mother's maiden names aren't so tough to
look up anymore as they used to be.
Keeping your identity safe isn't something you do
once and forget about it - you have to keep up
with it at all times. And if *anything* ever
seems strange, you're better safe than sorry!
Close or freeze all bank accounts, cancel all
your credit cards and ask new ones with new
numbers to be issued, contact the DMV to make
sure no new licences have been requested/issued
in your name, contact all your creditors to
inform them of the problem, and most importantly
contact the three major credit reproting agencies
by both telephone and writing to request a fraud
investigation. In the US, that's "Equifax" in
Atlanta, GA; "Experian" in Allen, TX; and
"Transunion" in Fullerton, CA. (If anyone would
like those addresses and phone numbers, just ask.)
Many Sharp Smiles,