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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: The Legal Corner: How to Prevent Identity Theft

March 23, 2010

Identity theft is a term used to describe when someone uses personal information to pretend to be someone else in order to steal money or gain other benefits. With many of our daily activities occurring online and so much personal information passing through the mail, identity theft has become a major problem all over the world. In the United States over the past five years, more than 27 million people have been victims of identity theft. At best, having your identity stolen is a huge hassle. At worst, you can lose money and your credit score can plummet. This article will be the first in a two part series of how to combat identity theft. This first article will focus on ways to prevent identity theft.
1) Be cautious on the telephone: It is very simple for someone to call and pretend to be a representative of a company that you do business with. Oftentimes these callers will ask for your birth date, your social security number or other personal information. Do not give any personal information over the telephone unless you can absolutely confirm the identity of the person that you are speaking with. If you have any doubts, do not give out your personal information.
2) Shred personal documents: Banking records, medical information, and any documents with your social security number, your birth date or other personal information should be shredded. Do not simply put this information in the garbage. There have been many instances of identity theft where a criminal has assumed another’s identity by simply removing documents from the garbage. Shredders are relatively inexpensive to purchase and are well worth it for the security and peace of mind.
3) Protect your computer: Many people now use computers to pay bills online, make purchases, or for other things that require inputing personal information. Make sure that you computer is password protected and that you have a proper security system in place. This is even more important for businesses. The ever-growing problem of identity theft means that businesses need to ensure that their billing, their work product and their customers\\\' personal information are protected. A businesses computer network needs to be protected by firewalls. You can purchase firewalls at any computer store (or online). Another option for small or home businesses is to purchase and install a small router.
4) Be careful on the internet: Making a purchase on the internet is not dangerous so long as you are on a secure site. However, if you have any question as to whether a site is secure, do not input personal information until you have further researched that particular site.
5) Businesses should have a company wide security policy: All businesses should put in place a security policy and educate staff about security issues. It should include information about email policies, internet use policies, customer information protection, and how to report any suspicious activities. Moreover, former employees should be removed from the computer network immediately, and any keys or other secure information should be received at the time of departure.
6)Check your credit report at least once a year: No matter what you do, there is no sure way to prevent identity theft. However, by checking your credit report at least once a year, you can spot suspicious activity immediately and report it.
7)Do not leave personal information in stores: After making a purchase at a store or a restaurant, always take credit card receipts with you. Never throw them away in a public trash container.
8)Do not use easily identifiable information in your passwords: When creating passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers), do not use the last four digits of your Social Security number, your mother\\\'s maiden name, your birth date, consecutive numbers, or anything else that may easily be discovered and used by criminals. Use passwords that only you will remember and use a combination of letters and numbers.
While this article does not encompass all the steps that you should take to prevent identity theft, it is a common sense start. There are many online resources which provide helpful information to prevent identity theft. The most important thing is to take as many steps as possible to prevent identity theft because it is easier to prevent identity theft than it is to rectify your credit (or recoup your losses) after your identity has been stolen.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay