With so much going on financially in the world, more people are getting desperate for fast money. Sadly, even during such hard times for people, there are still the miscreants who are willing to do just about anything to get their hands on your identity and other financial information.

During a recent gathering of select industries during National Consumer Protection Week, a wide array of groups including the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and even AARP, representatives each told varied tales of how important it is for all people to keep an eye on their personal information – a very close eye. The AARP group was represented because the age group it typically represents is more susceptible to fraud than other groups, including Generations X and Y.

Scammers looking to access your personal information can do so whether you are online or not. You can continue to do your banking in person and receive information only by US mail and still become the victim of a scam. Professional thieves can access your mailbox as easily as they can sometimes access your email box.

Not all cons are hackers trying to break into your computer. Some present themselves in the form of a third-party company who claims its mission is to help you eliminate debt, when all they really do is take your money. One of the chief complaints the Consumer Protection Agency receives is regarding home improvement contractors and the volatile debt collection agencies who harass consumers excessively.  The debt collectors have been known to cross the line by issuing illegal threats, calling homes at all hours of the day and night, and even being verbally abusive, all in an effort to collect on a debt.

Since many people already feel somewhat helpless when it comes to handling debts or personal finances in general, there are many perfect targets for deceptive practices that can lead to fraudulent activities and identity theft. Experts warn about giving out any vital information over the phone, via email, or in person unless you are absolutely certain of the intentions of the person asking for the information. While there are protective measures that can help you in the event something goes wrong but essentially, being proactive about your finances and personal information is your only assurance against guarding your information for the getting into the wrong hands.

Once your identity has been stolen or fraudulent activity has been done in your name or to your credit, it can be a very long road to get the issues resolved. It is much better to spend your time protecting yourself rather than clean up the messes made by others.

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