Is What You Are Getting Really Worth the Risk?

~ By Kim Latta ~

Do you ever wonder why your phone never seems to stop ringing and your mail box is always full of solicitations? It’s true there are people who spend a lot of time and energy trying to find, buy or worse yet, steal your information.  But the more likely scenario is that you have given it to them in in exchange for a service, a gift, or in hopes of winning something.  Everyone likes to get something for free.  But the truth is, nothing is free.  Somebody paid for whatever you are getting and they wouldn’t have paid for it unless they were getting something bigger and better in return.

First, think about who is asking for your information and what they might be using it for.  Best case, they will contact you in the future (maybe more than once) to try to sell you something.  Worst case, they will use your information for something unlawful or sell it to someone else who will.  Ask everyone who wants your personal information why they need it and what they intend to do with it.

Second, resist the urge to exchange your information for something you don’t really need or want.  As you walk through the next information fair, don’t enter the raffle at every exhibit table.  Limit the number of times you give out your information to those instances when you actually need the service.  Better yet take their number and call them for more information or an appointment.

Finally, when that phone rings, let it go to voicemail.  That will give you plenty of time to listen to the message, think about whether you are truly interested in whatever they are offering, and if so, check them out before returning the call.  When you do call back, call the published number for the agency or company (not the number left on the message).

Remember, stop and take a few minutes to think about whether what they are offering is really worth putting your information out there (again).  Never give your date of birth, social security number, Medicare (or other health insurance) number to someone soliciting you.  If they are asking for your Medicare number, they intend to bill Medicare for something.  Report anyone asking for your Medicare number (other than a doctor, hospital, or supplier YOU have contacted) to the Colorado Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-503-5190.

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