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20 Steps to Financial Health: Achieving Lifelong Financial Fitness

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19. Protecting your identity  Social Security and Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when your personal identification information such as your social security number, your name or your credit card is stolen to commit fraud. Identity Theft is one of the Federal Trade Commission’s leading complaints.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to determine if you have been a victim of identity theft is by pulling your credit report. This is the first place you will probably notice signs of victimization. Pay attention to the following ways identity theft happens:

a. Dumpster Diving – Shred any papers with account numbers including personal checks, or any personal identifying information
b. Skimming – Credit/debit card numbers are stolen by the use of a special storage device when your credit card payment is being processed
c. Phishing – If you get emails from financial institutions asking you to reveal personal information
d. Changing your address – Never fill a change of address form for a company/individual you do not recognize.
e. Stealing – If your wallet is stolen is a sure fire way of having your identity misused
f. Pre-texting – Emails claiming you are the heir to a fortune, or one from a government agency saying you will get $200,000 in a pre-paid card after sending $100. Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

20. Watch out for the warning signs

Sometimes we don’t see the signs of financial trouble until it is too late. However, knowing how to recognize the warning signs may help save you from having your debt spiral out of control. Some of these signs may include:

• Paying your bills after the payment due date
• Missing your credit card or loan payments altogether
• Relying on overtime to cover your debt related expenses
• Borrowing from family members to make your monthly
 debt payments
• Skipping one credit card bill to pay another 
• Transferring balances from one credit card to another  
• Ignoring your credit card statements
• Not having set aside money in your monthly budget to pay off your debts 



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