smart spending

5 ways to expose yourself to identity theft

Don't trade financial information for freebies
Dont trade financial information for freebies

Many legitimate organizations sponsor sweepstakes lotteries, drawings and giveaways for marketing purposes. But plenty of not so legitimate outfits also run these kinds of activities not to hand out freebies, but to collect data that can be used for identity theft crimes.

Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true, regardless of how or where they're presented. That free T-shirt may be a lure to entice you to fill out an application for a credit card that doesn't exist. Once you complete the application and get the T-shirt, those data are out of your control.

"The people who have been victims of identity theft have lost their sense of trust, and I will tell you maybe that is realistic in today's world," Foley says. "You should be questioning things and not (be) so accepting."

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