Identity theft happens, and it could happen to you. Since 2001 there have been over 3,000,000 identity theft complaints. Here is some specific data from the Federal Trade Commission's Annual Consumer Sentinal Report:
It is interesting to note that year after year the largest groups targeted by identiy theives are the working aged population as well as kids under 18.
If you are worried about it here are some links that you can use to better educate yourself:
How to protect yourself?
OK, what can the average citizen do to protect themselves? Here are some ideas:
- Avoid the paper trail. Destroy private records and statements, empty your mailbox quickly, safeguard your Social Security number, never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.
- Carefully review your monthly statements (bank, credit card, financial accounts). The earlier you catch an error the easier it is to resolve it.
- Order and review your credit reports. The three credit agencies in the U.S. (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) are required by law to provide you with one free credit report each year. AnnualCreditReport.com is the place to go to get them.
- Secure your personal information. Keep important documents safe at homeand be careful to create secure online passwords (Tech Tip #12) and don't forget to change them from time to time.
- Remember the old saying: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
What do you do if you think your idenity has been stolen?
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert
- Order Your Credit Reports
- Creat an Identity Theft Report
Learn more here:
PRACTICE ACTIVITY: Just take a moment to inventory what information about yourself you gave out in the past week, or the past month. Is there anything else you could be doing to protect your identity?
TO KEEP ON LEARNING: To find more about identity theft try searching the internet for:
How identity theft works
Protecting your identity
Protecting your credit rating
Free credit report