Preventing Identity Theft
In the USA approximately 40,000 consumers per year have their identity stolen, one of the most serious types of fraud. How identity theft works is that someone uses your personal information without your consent. This can include your name, social security number, driver’s license, bank accounts, mortgages, and even jobs you’ve had in the past or present. Your SSN and driver’s license can be used in identity theft to get a credit card, and if it happens to you, you may not find out until months after the fact. We’ve provided a few tips below that will help prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft. We’ll also provide where you can report identity theft if it’s happening to you or someone you know.
1. Make sure you check your credit accounts once a year. If you find accounts associated with your name that you’ve never heard of or are not yours, you may be a victim of identity theft.
2. It’s smart to cut up credit card applications, billing statements, and other personal documents once you’re done with them.
3. If for some reason you don’t get your bill for one of your credit cards or lines of credit make sure you call the credit company immediately to find out why.
4. Make sure your mailbox is locked and you’re the only one (along with people you trust) should be the only one that has access to it.
5. Only give out your social security number if it’s absolutely necessary.
6. When you use the ATM machine make sure you save your receipts, compare them to your debit statements and then rip them up before tossing them in the trash.
If you want to report identity theft or you’re a victim of the crime act right away. If your purse or wallet was stolen, and it contained your ID, call the credit reporting agencies right away so that they can put an alert on your file; this way credit accounts cannot be opened without your consent. It is also wise to make a police report if this happens. In addition, make sure you send important written messages by mail, and keep careful written records of everyone you speak with in the process. Identity theft can be prevented, and if you act quickly it can be curbed if you report it early enough.
For more complete information about identity theft, please visit the official site: The Federal Trade Commission's National Resource for Identity Theft.