By Staff Report

*I will file my tax return as early as possible to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of tax filing and tax refund fraud.

*I will not provide my social security number, financial information nor personal information unless I am 100 percent certain of who I am giving it to and why, nor carry my social security card with me unless I intend to use it.

*I will order free copies of my credit reports at www.annualcredit or call 1-877-332-8228 to review them for accuracy and errors, and consider freezing my credit file, which is free to Florida seniors age 65 and older, and to victims of identity theft.

*I will thoroughly research a business to ensure it is properly registered or licensed by the state or local government, and check out its complaint history before entering into a contract and issuing payment.

*I will read and understand any contract that I sign, and receive a complete signed copy.

*I will commit to a monthly budget, save more, spend less and pay down my debts.

*I will shred documents that contain my personal identifying information.

*I will always assume that an unsolicited email or text message is a possible scam, and never click the link or links attached.

*I will safeguard my personal and financial information, and regularly check my bank account and credit card statements for any bogus activity.

*I will check my medical, insurance and financial records for discrepancies and possible fraud, and keep a medical journal or detailed record of all medical services received.

*I will not jump into an online dating site without learning about the privacy policies, cancellation clauses and refund policies; nor will I fall for false claims of love and companionship when tied to requests for money.

*I will screen my incoming phone calls to avoid telemarketing scams that may try to obtain money and/or my personal information.

*I will consider registering with the federal and state Do Not Call lists.

*I will protect my computer with firewalls, up-to-date security and anti-virus software.

*I will protect my Smartphone by logging out of apps, clear my browser history, password protect my home screen and update the operating software.

*I will never share personal or financial information over public Wi-Fi networks.

*I will use a credit card when shopping by phone, television or online, and dispute the charge within 60 days from the receipt of the bill if I’m unsatisfied with a product or services.

*I will be wary of fake checks linked to winning prizes or lotteries; work-at-home opportunities or employment; or alleged overpayment for something I may be selling, and will never wire money back to someone who sent me a check.

*I will educate my kids about online safety, set restrictions and guidelines regarding sites they visit, and monitor their online activity.

*I will visit for helpful resources and tips for myself and my kids about identity theft and online safety.

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Kelly Legg has been writing for the Osprey Observer as a freelance writer for three years, and has recently taken on the role of managing editor for the Christian Voice newspaper. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications. She currently resides in Riverview with her husband and three children.