Prevent Identity Fraud
There were of two million complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about identity theft in 2012. This is a 32 percent increase in one year. Almost one half of these complaints involve government documents or benefits. Florida ranks as the number one state with identity fraud in 2012, with Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan and Louisiana completing the top five.
One of the reasons Florida is on top of the list is its large elderly population. Many seniors prefer to write checks rather than use credit cards. Using a gel pen for writing checks will help prevent check fraud, as they cannot be altered. Criminals use a process known as check washing.
Acetone is used to erase the ink on a check, or some other type of chemical, such as benzene, bleach, carbon tetrachloride are just a few. These are common ingredients used in various cleaners. They can remove greases, oils, waxes and inks, then when the check is dry a new amount and payee can be written in.
Prevent Mail Fraud
The best way to prevent this problem is to not leave outgoing mail in an unlocked box, but if you must, try to leave it shortly before expected the mail pickup. Even when void is written on a check it can still be used to set up an account or to transfer funds.
New Account Fraud
A big jump on identity theft involves new account fraud. This entails using a victim’s name and as much personal information as the criminal can get to open new charge accounts and get new loans. This form of fraud has increased by 50 percent over the past year.
Another method that has grown is the use of social security numbers, particularly during tax season. This accounts for approximately 25 percent of fraud cases. People are concerned now if they file their return late and it is rejected because someone else has already filed in their name. Thieves hack into a variety of places to get this information. It may be computer systems, paper files at schools, places of business or financial institutions.
There are several clues to question fraud where your IRS return is concerned. If the IRS indicates you have a 1099 from an employer you did not work for, then you have probably experience identity theft. A stolen wallet is always a clue to future problems, even if you've notified all of your credit cards immediately.
Never sign a blank IRS return if you pay someone to complete your taxes. Do not complete your tax return at a small restaurant or coffee spot with their Wi-Fi service. If you use a photograph, delete it immediately following its use.
New Fraud Scams for Identity Theft
There have been cases of small businesses scamming credit cards. When you are dining out and ready to pay the bill, quite often you give your credit card to the waiter or waitress. They take the card to the cash register, which you often can’t see. It is important to be alert to each credit card bill for accuracy.
Californians are now facing new fraud threats with the use of card-skimming devices, Bluetooth technology, malicious software or malware and unsecured Wi-Fi. A secured Wi-Fi system is essential for computer security. Use different passwords for different accounts. Never use your social security number. The threats can come from overseas, as well as, in the U.S. Be aware of phishing request and never give out personal information from unsolicited sources. I was recently hacked by several overseas sources, but fortunately I got some help and eliminated the problem before it went too far. I now have anti-hacking software.
Identity Fraud - How to Protect Yourself from Cyber-Criminals
It is important to protect your identity. There are several reasonably priced programs you can purchase to ensure your credit remains untouched. Never give our personal information to someone on the phone. Be cautious to protect your identity.
© 2013 Pamela Oglesby
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