Avoid ID theft

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By The Staff

PERRY COUNTY - Easy-to-take, common-sense steps can lessen the odds of falling victim to identity theft.

Invest in a crosscut shredder that dices documents into small rectangular pieces, not long ribbons. Shred all documents that contain personal information, including old bank statements and credit-card statements.

Balance bank accounts once a month and check for errors or withdrawals you did not authorize. Don't forget to scan credit-card statements for anything suspicious.

Protect your mail. Use a locked mailbox or mail slot. Indiana State Police Sgt. Chad Dick advises against raising red flags on mailboxes because thieves often target them, especially in rural areas.

Do not carry a Social Security card. Carry a photocopy of your Medicare card with the last four digits blacked out or removed. The Social Security Fraud Line is (800) 269-0271.

Beware of door-to-door solicitations and never give information or money at your door.

Identifying markers on cars or trucks, such as John and Mary Smith from Tell City, Indiana, can give information to con artists. Avoid them.

Don't respond to telephone calls from solicitors. Ask for their telephone number and call them back.

Never cash a check from someone you don't know, including checks that accompany letters claiming you've won a sweepstakes or other cash prize.

Don't reply to e-mails claiming to be from the IRS about your economic-stimulus check or stating you have a refund coming. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail. In addition, the IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail or ask taxpayers for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

Fear you're already a victim or have received a bogus telephone call or letter? Call Indiana State Police at (800) 742-7475.

More information is available at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.