Jul 18, 2007

How Much is Your Privacy Worth?

I've been seeing a lot of posts in the blogsophere about getting free money by opening new credit card and bank accounts. See posts here, here, and here for examples. In the same vein, one of my favorite money bloggers has written in the past about using 0% promotional offers to make money by maxing out the credit card and parking the money in a safe place to earn interest.

I admit, the deals are tempting. After all, it's free money. The money is given by the credit card company in the hope that the new card-holder will use the card often, charge a lot, and make the company a lot of money. And there's a lot of competition out there, hence the incentives.

But I've never taken the plunge. It's not that I'm afraid I'll rack up some debt. We pay our credit card bills in full every month and we will continue to do so.

The reason I've never opened a new account is that none of the deals I've come across are with a company I already have a card or other relationship with. And I hesitate to give my personal information to a company I don't intend to remain with. My social security number, address, birth date, employer, income and all sorts of other good stuff will remain in their computer systems for perpetuity. If they get hacked at some point, that information could fall into the wrong hands. And we all know what a nightmare it is to clean up a blight on your credit report. I don't mind sharing my personal information with companies I do maintain long-term relationships with. Which is why I probably would apply for any great bonus deals those companies offered. But at least for now, I prefer to minimize my risk of identity theft by minimizing the number of institutions that have my personal information.

There are a gazillion sites with tips on how to minimize your risk of identity theft. Listed below are just a few:

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