Identity Theft Or Will The REAL Me Please Stand Up!
There is a new thief on the block. An identity thief and YOU are at risk!
Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime today and is effecting approximately 900,000 NEW victims each year!
Everyday transactions such as writing a check, using your cell phone, making a charge purchase, applying for a credit card, mailing your tax returns, even simply placing your outgoing mail in your mail box may put you at risk.
Shopping Online (e-commerce) has enabled consumers to purchase almost any product online, from clothing to groceries, vehicles to home loans and anywhere in between. All with the click of the mouse!
These and other transactions require you to share personal information-credit and bank account numbers, your social security number, birth date, your income, name, address and telephone number.
The identity theft takes some piece of your information and then co-opts (shares) the information while pretending to be you and uses it to commit fraud or theft. Such as using your personal information to obtain credit, merchandise, services or even criminal action in your name.
You, in return, are left with your good name and credit ruined and with the complicated and time consuming task of regaining your identity and restoring your credit.
Can identity theft be completely prevented-No, but there are (steps/ways) you can take to minimize your risk by managing your personal information better.
Ways An Identity Thief Uses Your Information:
The identity thief calls your credit card issuer, posing as you, gives a change of address for your credit card account. Then the identity thief uses your card information to run up charges on your account.
Since your statement (and the merchandise) is going to a new address, you don’t realize right away there is a problem.
Using your name, birth date and social security number, the identity thief can open new credit card accounts in your name, never pay the bills and the delinquent account is reported in your name and becomes part of your credit report.
Identity thieves have also been know to open a bank account in your name, write bad checks on the account and leave you facing the consequences.
Another area of identity theft is using counterfeit checks and/or debit cards and steal the money from your bank account.
Still another area of identity theft is establishing cellular phone service in your name. The identity thief can even buy vehicles by using your name and taking out a vehicle loan.
Steps To Help You Decrease Your Risk Of Identity Theft:
1. Protect your Social Security Number. Don’t carry your Social Security card with you or in your wallet. Leave your drivers license, social security and home telephone numbers off your personal checks.
2. Shop Online at Secure Web Sites. Always make sure you are dealing with a secure web site. Look for https:// displayed in your web address bar located near the top of your screen. The “s” after “http” stands for “secure”. https://
3. Destroy information and papers you throw away. Shred (crosscut shredders are best) bank information, credit card information, offers for credit and payments made with receipts given.
4. Know your credit accounts billing cycles. In case your bills are late coming in, you can call the company and request a duplicate copy. This will help you see right away if there is a problem on your account.
5. Check your credit report. Once a year check your credit report with the three major credit reporting agencies. Don’t overlook the “Inquiries” section of the report. This will give you an overview of creditors, accounts and inquiries made on your report.
Even though you can’t totally prevent identity theft from occurring, following these few steps and tips will help you lower your risk. When the time (credit report) comes….
The Real You IS Standing Up!
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