Almost ten million Americans were victims of some sort of identity theft last year ID theft is the fastest-growing crime in America according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Clearing your name after an identity theft can be a very complicated and disruptive to your life.. There are a lot of people to notify, including creditors, credit bureaus, and law enforcement. It can take many months--or possibly years--before you get your life back in order, and clear your name.
Tips to help Prevent Identity Theft:
These tips can help you to avoid becoming a victim in the first place.
Secure your Social Security Number
1. Be careful with your social security number. Avoid carrying your social security card in your wallet, and don't print your number on personal checks.
2. Only release your social security number when it's absolutely necessary. Legally, almost no one has the right to require it, and most merchants and companies have the ability to do a background check without it.
3. If a merchant asks for your social security number, ask why it's necessary, and what safeguards they have in place to protect your information.
Minimize Credit Card Accounts
4. Minimize the number of credit cards you have, and only carry one or two in your wallet. Every extra credit card you have is one more opportunity for thieves to crack your account. It's a good idea to keep a list of all your credit cards, bank accounts, and investments in a safe place.
Practice Safe Computing
5. Think about computer safety--never use obvious or easily guessed passwords or PINs, and always create passwords that combine letters and numbers.
6. Be wary of \"phishing\" schemes. Phishing is a fast-growing type of fraud that usually starts as an email or pop-up designed to trick you into revealing personal financial details. Never reply to emails asking for personal details, or even click on links in emails that appear suspicious.
Secure your Mail and your Trash
7. Be careful what you throw away! Trash is a prime target for identity thieves, so take the time to shred all paperwork containing sensitive information, including pre-approved credit offers. The most secure shredders are \"cross cut\" shredders, because they ensure that the documents cannot be reassembled.
8. Never leave envelopes containing bills and checks in places where there's a danger of their being stolen. Consider mailing your bills at the post office, rather than leaving them for your letter carrier at your front door or mailbox.
Do Regular Checkups
9. Carefully review financial statements each month for unauthorized use, including your credit cards, bank statements, and phone bills. Alert your creditors immediately, in the event that you notice a discrepancy.
10. Do a \"check up\" on your credit history once every year. Securing this information is easy. You'll be able to get one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus.
11. Many credit card companies offer protection against identity theft. Ask your credit card company epresentative if yours does.
12. Some insurance companies offer identity theft assistance as part of their automobile or homeowners insurance policies<br><br>Post edited by: maggie, at: 2007/05/10 21:09
What do I do if a merchant asks for my social security number and I just don’t trust them to keep my information safe? A friend had this happen and he just opted to not use that merchant because it was obvious that their protection was not the best. If they can do a background check without it, why do some still ask for it?
I prefer to burn my older bills and other important documents. That way, I am sure no one can get their hands on them.
The problem with ID theft is that it can happen so easily that it's scary. You could just throw away some bills you don't need anymore and someone could use that plus something else and do a lot of harm. Like DonnaH said, just burn everything you don't need anymore. With enough details, a thief could do a free background check on you and find even more details to use.
Nowadays, teaching both kids and adults about computer safety should be a priority. This should be taught extensively in school so kids know how to spot scams. Plus if kids learn more about it they will also teach their parents, friends, relatives and we as a society become more aware of the dangers. So many kids have no clue what to share online, on their social media accounts, how to spot scammers and so on. I don’t understand why more money isn’t invested in just bringing information forward to kids and adults alike. Plus kids should know how to do a background check so they can spot scams and scammers on their own.
You are absolutely right. I don’t know why much more effort isn’t put in so kids know all the dangers of the internet. And I am talking about sharing real examples with them so they truly understand. Not just theory, but more practice and much more of it. Anyone should know how to do a free background check nowadays.