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Computer Privacy Annoyances by Dan Tynan

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IDENTITY THEFT

Foil Mailbox Miscreants

The Annoyance:

My mailbox is bursting with offers for pre-approved credit cards and home equity loans. I’m worried somebody might get to my mail before I do and steal these offers.

The Fix:

You should be. Your mailbox is a prime target for identity thieves, and any mail containing sensitive information—like credit card offers, bills, receipts—could be used by a thief to create new accounts in your name.

The first step is to tell the big credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion) to stop selling your information for use in pre-approved credit card offers. Simply call (888) 567-8688 and provide your home phone number, full name, address, zip code, Social Security Number, and date of birth. You can choose to have information suppressed for five years or permanently. You can also fill out a form online at http://www.optoutprescreen.com (see Figure 2-7).

You can opt out permanently from pre-approved card offers at , but do it quickly-if you don’t fill out the form within 10 minutes it turns into a pumpkin.

Figure 2-7. You can opt out permanently from pre-approved card offers at http://optoutprescreen.com, but do it quickly-if you don’t fill out the form within 10 minutes it turns into a pumpkin.

But you might still get credit offers from banks that get your name from other sources, as well as other offers that contain information ID thieves would love to get their hands on. Worse, anyone going through your trash could easily find the stuff you thought you’d tossed. To foil dumpster ...

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