Identity theft is a crime which is affecting more than 30 millions Americans this year alone. It is imperative that you protect your personal financial information which includes bank accounts numbers, Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, etc. All documents with such numbers on them should be shredded before being discarded in the trash. No such information should be given to ANYONE on the phone or by e-mail, or to anyone claiming to need that information because you have won a "prize".
Do not respond to phone inquiries or e-mails which ask for such information. These are called Phishing scams and are a way that criminals obtain information about you.
Another method used by con artists, is to call you by phone to tell you that one of your credit cards has been used fraudulently. You are then directed to call an 1-800 number where another person asks you to confirm your credit card information and banking account information which are then used to obtain money from your accounts.
If you feel you may have had your personal information stolen, or used fraudulently, contact your local police department immediately and read the information on the Federal Trade Commission web site at www.ftc.gov. On the Federal Trade Commission site, you will find information which will assist you if you have been a victim of Identity Theft or if you want to protect yourself from being a victim.
In addition, effective September 2005, recent new Federal laws mandate that you can obtain a credit report on yourself FREE from each of the three major credit information bureaus. You man obtain one free report from each of the three reporting companies each year. To obtain such a report go to this web site www.annualcreditreport.com.