Tips to avoid fraud, identity theft

Fraud and identity theft have been increasing throughout the years and are sure to continue.

Here are 10 simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you avoid becoming a victim of these devastating economic crimes.

• 1 — Shred all credit card offers and statements before putting them in the trash. Simply tearing the letter into a few pieces does not always work.

• 2 — Don’t print your Social Security number on your checks.

• 3 — Keep a list of your credit card and bank account numbers and phone numbers in a safe place, so if your purse or wallet is stolen, you can immediately call the appropriate institutions. The faster you act, the quicker the thief is blocked.

• 4 — Don’t keep your account PIN number in the same place as your credit cards or ATM cards.

• 5 — Bank online if possible. It’s easier and, so far, it’s proven safer.

• 6 — Don’t ever respond to an e-mail claiming to be from your bank that requests you to enter your account number or any credit card numbers.

• 7 — If you take part in online auctions, keep all e-mails verifying your payment and all communications from the seller until the deal is complete and you are satisfied with the item.

• 8 — Don’t respond to an e-mail that claims to be from your Internet service provider asking you to resubmit or verify your credit card information.

• 9 — When you go away, be sure to have the post office put a hold on your mail and have your newspaper held.

• 10 — Don’t leave mail in your mailbox for pick-up and be sure to check your mail regularly.

By following these simple steps, you will not only be protecting yourself, but you will also be helping to keep crime from happening, which will allow law enforcement to focus their attention where it is needed.