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How to Assess Your Risk For Identity Theft and Take 5 Immediate Prevention Steps

Updated on February 20, 2017

Could You Fall Victim to Identity Theft?

How safe is your identity?
How safe is your identity? | Source

Identity Hacking: It Can Happen To You

The voicemail came as a surprise during the busy holiday season: "This is the Fraud Department from American Express calling about questionable transactions on your account." Whoa. What?

As it turned out, my husband's corporate credit card had indeed been compromised. First, there was an innocuous $1 charge to see whether the card was valid. Quickly there followed $1,000 or so in charges for on-line merchandise.

An investigation revealed that it was an inside job at his workplace. Hundreds of other employees had already been affected.

What's worse is that between my husband and I, it was the fifth time our personal information had been stolen, lost, or accidentally shared by an organization we trusted. In 2005, our credit card information was compromised along with that of 40 million other Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover account holders when an intruder gained access to a third-party credit card processor's payment database.1 This massive breach exposed us and others to potential identity theft.

That same year, I was among 12,000 government employees whose names, addresses, phone numbers, salaries, and social security numbers (SSNs) were accidentally published on the Internet. Oops.

Private Data Doesn't Always Stay That Way

My personal data was breached five times in less than a decade.
My personal data was breached five times in less than a decade. | Source

In 2006, my husband and I were among the thousands of Wells Fargo mortgagees whose confidential data went missing along with a bank computer.2 Later that year, my personal and retirement data was exposed when five laptop computers were stolen from Towers Perrin (now named Towers Watson), a firm that my employer had retained for HR Benefits projects.3 Ironically, Towers Watson is an HR and risk management consulting firm.

Were we incredibly unlucky? I'd say! The upside, however, is that our experience has made us more cautious regarding what personal information we share, when, and with whom. The five data breaches we experienced involved organizations that had

  • a false sense of invulnerability
  • unchecked or unplanned for human error and
  • a failure to maintain adequate safeguards.

As a smart consumer, recognize that no one is immune from identity hacking. No one. Ask the long list of celebrities who have had their identities compromised. Examples include Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Mel Gibson, and Christina Aguilera.4 If it can happen to them, can it happen to you? You bet.

Here We Go Again

Oops, the hackers did it again.  This time, 40 million Target customers had their credit and debit card information compromised.  Both my husband and I were among them.
Oops, the hackers did it again. This time, 40 million Target customers had their credit and debit card information compromised. Both my husband and I were among them. | Source

The Bad Guys High Fived Each Other Over This One

Somewhere in Hackerland, whoever pulled off this computer coup is still high fiving his buddies. I'm so tired of the bad guys getting one up on the rest of us. But they are pretty smart.

Target announced in December 2013 that customer information had been stolen from 40 million credit and debit card users during the busiest shopping time of the year -- from Black Friday to December 15. Compromised data included the card numbers, expiration dates, and the three-digit security code on the back of the card.7

Rather than provide complimentary a one-year credit monitoring service, Target advised its consumers to monitor their own credit and immediately report any fraud. (They later came through with credit monitoring, but it took them way too long too respond to the crisis.) Credit card users are typically responsible for the first $50 in fraudulent charges but need to report the fraud in a timely manner.

So here we go again. No pun intended, but do I have a target on my back?

Both my husband and I were among those 40 million shoppers, using two different credit cards! So this makes our sixth (and technically also our seventh) data breach since 2005.

We needed this data compromise like a third nipple, a unibrow, another ugly Christmas sweater, last year's fruitcake. You get the picture.

Is Someone Shoulder Surfing You?

Could someone be shoulder surfing while you enter your PIN?
Could someone be shoulder surfing while you enter your PIN? | Source

Five Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a form of fraud involving unauthorized access and use of personally identifiable information, such as passwords, user names, financial or medical data, and confidential employment or educational information.5 According to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, there are five types of identity theft:6

  1. financial - using another person's SSN to obtain a loan, credit card, or utilities
  2. criminal - impersonating someone else when dealing with law enforcement. Typically, it involves using the victim's SSN, name, and address to acquire a driver's license. The thief uses the stolen identity when he is cited or arrested. Then guess who has a rap sheet?
  3. medical - using another person's medical benefits card, Medicare identification, SSN or insurance number to gain prescription drugs or expensive medical treatment. Once the thief receives medical care, he lets the insurance company and the victim deal with the bills. Mix-ups in medical records are also a serious risk.
  4. governmental - exploiting stolen personal data to get public welfare benefits, government grants and loans, and to intercept tax refunds. It may also involve obtaining employment under another person's identity, especially for those not legally authorized to work in the United States or for those without the necessary licenses (e.g., impersonators of health care professionals).
  5. cyber/reputational - using someone's name, image, or associations to damage their reputation or infiltrate their email or contact list.

No One Is Immune From Identity Theft

Who has their eye on your personal information?
Who has their eye on your personal information? | Source

Reader Poll:

Has your personally identifying information ever been compromised?

See results

Identity Theft Is An Expensive Crime

Identity theft is a $21 billion crime which affects more than 1 in 20 American adults at a rate of one incident every three seconds.8 Even children and the recently deceased are targets because in both situations the crime can often go undetected for extended periods of time.

Identity theft has increased as people bank and shop more on-line and rely more heavily on mobile devices — often without sufficient anti-virus/anti-malware or strong passwords. There is a 1 in 4 chance that if your personal information is breached, you will become a victim of identity theft. Odds are much higher if your SSN is compromised.

Still think you're immune? Unfortunately, both strangers as well as people you know and trust could be motivated to compromise your personal information for their own benefit. That includes coworkers, friends, and even family members.

Following are common methods that your personal information may be compromised, whether on-line, at home, in public, or in transacting business (see table below).

Make Them Work For It! Shred Those Documents

If in doubt, shred those documents.  At least make the criminals work for it.
If in doubt, shred those documents. At least make the criminals work for it. | Source

Methods for Gaining Unauthorized Access to Your Personal Data

At Home or Work
In Public
Through Merchants
Through Trickery
Friends, family, or coworkers take information that is carelessly left out
Your wallet, purse, or electronic device is lost or stolen
A security breach at a school, medical facility, bank, or other business that collects your personal data
Using emails, text messages, or phone scams, a thief tricks you into willingly providing personal data
Thieves "dumpster dive" for unshredded paperwork containing sensitive information
A thief "shoulder surfs" (watches as you input passwords)
Hacking, viruses, malware or spyware on your computer; websites with poor data security
An imposter learns personal information about you through social networking sites
Thieves steal mail or divert it to another address to get account statements
A card skimmer takes an imprint of your credit or debit card; you transmit personal information using a public Wifi hotspot
An insider (e.g., waiter/waitress, bank teller) with access to your personal information steals it
 
Sources: Javelin Strategy & Research; Identity Theft Research Center

Identity Theft: Not A Victimless Crime

Identity theft is a federal crime and can carry up to 15 years imprisonment.
Identity theft is a federal crime and can carry up to 15 years imprisonment. | Source

Share Your Experience with Identity Theft in the Comments Section Below

Violations of Trust

Even when your credit does not suffer, identity theft is not without costs. The disclosure of private information could be stressful or embarrassing, as when 1,000 private abortion records were discarded in a recycling bin, or when a national pharmacy chain's poorly designed smart phone app allowed access to other customers' identities and prescription histories.9,10

Data breaches may violate your trust and leave you wondering whether the full damage of the security breach is yet known. Additionally, investigations and fraud resolutions require your time and sometimes money to report and see through.

When an identity thief is prosecuted, the offense is typically penalized with up to 15 years in prison, a fine, and criminal forfeiture of any property that the thief used or intended to use to commit the offense.11 Oftentimes, there are other, related federal charges, depending on the nature of the fraud he or she perpetrated. Examples include credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Prosecution is handled by federal prosecutors who work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Secret Service, and other federal agencies.

Data Thieves Want Your Personal Information

Protect your personal data.  Don't make it easy for data thieves.
Protect your personal data. Don't make it easy for data thieves. | Source

Who Is a Prime Target for Identity Theft?

Given the prevalence of identity theft and the associated headaches, recognize what makes a great target for an identity thief. Are you a prime target?

Doxing: Dumpster Diving Goes High Tech

Hackers may comb the Internet looking for documents that contain personally identifiable information. When these bits of information are combined, an individual's identity is revealed. This is called "doxing," short for "document tracing"

The technique has been used to harass celebrities and to retaliate against law enforcement personnel who seek to crack down on computer hacking rings. For example, hackers gained access to a database of 7,000 law enforcement personnel and published the list of names, addresses, SSNs, email address and passwords on the Internet.

Likely targets may have certain characteristics as well as behaviors that make them more vulnerable to such exploitation. Characteristics include having 12,13

  • an excellent credit history
  • no criminal record
  • personal or professional prominence (e.g., celebrities, corporate executives, people with access to key information)
  • law enforcement background (see sidebar on "doxing")
  • annual earnings exceeding $75,000; or
  • being 18-29 years old, the most common age range for identity theft victims. College students frequently receive many credit card offers and fail to routinely review their financial records.14

What's in Your Wallet?

Perhaps it's time to check again.  Are you still carrying your Social Security card?  More credit cards than needed?  Medical benefit cards?
Perhaps it's time to check again. Are you still carrying your Social Security card? More credit cards than needed? Medical benefit cards? | Source

These Behaviors Make You Vulnerable to Identity Theft

Additionally, certain controllable actions can make you a likely target:

  • writing down your PIN number on your ATM cards. This provides instant access to your bank account before you even realize it is lost. (The same goes for keeping the PIN in your wallet.)
  • carrying too many credit cards, medical benefit cards, and your social security card with you in your wallet. When you leave the house, only carry what you will reasonably need. If you happen to lose your wallet, the chances of fraudulent charges will be lower if you have left extra credit and ATM cards at home. To facilitate reporting of a lost or stolen wallet, photocopy the backs and fronts of all important documents you may carry with you at any time, and keep them in a secure location. Your Social Security card belongs at home under lock and key.

What Is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally identifiable information is any data about an you that either alone or in combination with other data could potentially be used to identify, locate, and contact you.

Examples: your name, street or email address, phone number, SSN, medical/genetic data, fingerprints, financial account numbers, date and place of birth.

Who has your personally identifiable information? Lots of organizations: government, your financial institutions, schools, your employer, doctors, merchants, and utility companies, just for starters. Here are examples of where such information occurs so you will know when you are at risk (and what needs to be shredded):

  • Bank, credit card and brokerage statements
  • Credit card receipts and both new and cancelled checks
  • Driver's License
  • Car rental agreement
  • Tax returns and supporting documents
  • Vehicle purchase documentation
  • Mortgage records
  • Employment records
  • Health insurance records
  • Prescription labels
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage, birth, and death certificates
  • Electronic hotel key

  • neglecting to review itemized charges on your credit card bills. You may not have recourse if you do not dispute the charge promptly.
  • tossing credit card bills, receipts, medical bills, utility bills, and credit card offers directly in the trash or recycling bin. Instead, shred them first.
  • failing to monitor credit - obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling the companies directly. You may request the three credit reports either all at one time so that you can compare them, or you may space them out (e.g., every four months). Contact numbers: Equifax (1-800-685-1111), Experian (1-888-397-3742), and Trans Union (1-800-916-8800). If you decide to pay for an identity monitoring service, make sure it includes a public records check in addition to credit monitoring.
  • responding to emails, texts, or phone calls requesting personal information - Never give out your private information over the phone unless you have initiated the call. Do not transmit personal data such as SSNs or credit card numbers through texts or email. If you receive suspicious communication requesting personal data (e.g., from your bank or credit card company), use established numbers that you already know. Beware of bogus job offers that seek to accumulate resumes and applications.
  • failing to erase your hard drive and electronic devices before tossing/recycling
  • placing your outgoing mail in unsecured mailboxes
  • overusing "plastic" because of its convenience - Rather than pay electronically, consider using cash, especially for small and frequent incidentals. (You may enjoy the side benefit of spending less, too.) If you must use plastic, compare the liability for fraudulent charges by reading the terms of service for your debit vs. credit cards. Credit cards are usually preferable.
  • regarding electronic security as too inconvenient - using weak or no passwords -- especially on a smart phone or tablet; not updating anti-virus/anti-malware; using public Wifi hotspots to transmit personal, financial, or medical information.
  • ignoring calls from collection agencies or bill collectors as mistakes - This is often how people discover they are victims of identity theft.

Don't Be an Easy Target: Invest In a Paper Shredder

AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder
AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder

This 12 sheet, 4.8 gallon cross-cut paper shredder can help you safely destroy credit cards, cds, and handles up to 600 sheets of paper a day. Protect your valuable information in your home or home office. I like it because it can handle big jobs and it shreds credit cards.

 

5 Immediate Action Steps To Protect Yourself

So now you're convinced that it can happen to you, and you want to ramp up your protection against identity theft. Where can you start? Here are five immediate action items to get you going:

1. Review the contents of your wallet to minimize the information you carry with you.

2. Purchase and faithfully use a shredder.

3. Opt out of prescreened offers of credit cards and insurance by mail. You can do this permanently or for a five-year period. The three national credit reporting companies operate the opt out service. To opt out, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to https://www.optoutprescreen.com.

4. Order your free credit report. Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service. (I use Credit Karma which is free.)

5. Ensure that your passwords are strong and have been changed recently and make sure your anti-virus/anti-spy ware is current.

Guard Your Personally Identifying Information

Guard your personally identifying information by sharing it on a need-to-know basis.
Guard your personally identifying information by sharing it on a need-to-know basis. | Source

Notes

1Evers, Joris. "Credit card breach exposes 40 million accounts." CNET. Last modified June 17, 2005. http://news.cnet.com/Credit-card-breach-exposes-40-million-accounts/2100-1029_3-5751886.html.

2Vijayan, Jaikumar. "Deja vu for Wells Fargo: bank loses computer with confidential data." Computerworld. Last modified May 8, 2006. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9000293/Deja_vu_for_Wells_Fargo_bank_loses_computer.

3Sutherland, Ed. "Retiree Data Lost in Laptop Theft." InternetNews - Software, Storage, Security, Server, Networking News for IT Managers. Last modified January 9, 2007. http://www.internetnews.com/security/article.php/3652901/Retiree+Data+Lost+in+Laptop+Theft.htm.

4 The Huffington Post. "Celebrities Hacked: Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian And Others Victims Of 'Doxxing'." Last modified March 11, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/celebrities-hacked_n_2854786.html.

5Microsoft. "What is Identity Theft?" Microsoft Corporation. Accessed April 15, 2013. http://www.microsoft.com/security/resources/identitytheft-whatis.aspx.

6 Davis, Matt. "Identity Theft Resource Center Blog: Classification to Mitigation - What You Need to Know about the Multiple Faces of Identity Theft." Identity Theft Resource. Last modified October 3, 2012. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/Privacy-Issues/classification-to-mitigation.html.

7http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/12/19/target-credit-debit-card-data-breach/4125231/

8Javelin Strategy & Research. "How Consumers Can Protect Against Identity Fraudsters in 2013." Javelin Strategy & Research. Last modified February, 2013. https://www.javelinstrategy.com.

9Adler, Eric, and Judy L. Thomas. "Abortion files tossed into recycling bin - KansasCity.com." KansasCity.com. Last modified March 26, 2012. http://www.kansascity.com/2012/03/26/3516018/abortion-files-tossed-into-recycling.html.

10Protected Health Information Privacy. "Rite Aid mobile app left customer prescription history vulnerable – customer." Last modified September 27, 2012. http://www.phiprivacy.net/?p=10267.

11Department of Justice. "Identity Theft and Fraud." The United States Department of Justice. Accessed April 15, 2013. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html.

12Smith, Ph.D., Eva N. "New Study Profiles Credit Card Fraud Victims." Credit Card Help Topics. Accessed April 15, 2013. http://www.creditcardguide.com/creditcards/credit-cards-general/study-profiles-credit-card-fraud-victims-221/.

13Identity Theft Awareness and Solutions. "High Target Identity Theft." Identity Theft Awareness and Solutions. Accessed April 15, 2013. http://www.identity-theft-awareness.com/high-target-identity.html.

14Dakass, Brian. "College Students Prime Target For ID Theft." CBS News. Last modified April 22, 2009. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-501103_162-3188716.html.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Easy Exercise - I'm sure you'll get a much more thorough answer out on a forum. However, several factors that could differentiate doxing from a background search would be: 1) purpose of the search, 2) authorization/awareness from the subject being researched (i.e., background checks for employment purposes are known and authorized by the applicant), 3) the type of data used to piece together someone's history (i.e., publicly available records or breached data), 4) who usually performs them (not everyone can "dox"), and 5) impact of the released information. Hope this helps you.

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 2 years ago from United States

      I just asked out on the forum - What is the difference between doxing and a background check? Where do they overlap? Where are they different? Is a chart available? Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Miss Info - Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Miss Info profile image

      Miss Info 2 years ago from New York City

      Very good hub. I am a fan of Target.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Better Yourself - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Although thankfully we've never experienced financial loss as a result, every time our data is compromised -- by something as mundane as using our credit card at Target -- it is frustrating. It also makes me lose trust in the companies that supposedly are safeguarding our data. I shred everything and check my credit frequently just to be sure.

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful hub! Identity theft is only growing, sadly! I hate it for you that you've had to endure this even once let alone 6-7 times, and am grateful for you sharing your experience and knowledge to help others protect themselves. Well done, voted up!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      It's hard to believe how many times you've had to deal with this. I guess I've been very fortunate.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - The fallout from the Target incident is still unfolding and the communications from them are quite slow. Thanks for stopping by again and repinning.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      I'm pinning this one again because identity theft is such a problem that shows no signs of stopping. People really need to shred everything that contains personal information, if not everything with their name printed on it. We bought an Amazon shredder for this purpose.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. I agree it is something people do need to know!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This one's going on my "Things You Really Need to Know" board, because people need to know about this.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Crafty - That's one heck of a tricky mailbox -- bound to outsmart the thieves! It sounds like a real challenge with your relative as the mail carrier. Sounds like you need a secret video camera.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This information is so valuable for today's epidemic of identity theft. When I moved here, I purchased a mail box that is identify theft proof. When the door is opened, there is no floor. The mail falls down to the bottom and can only be gotten out with a key. I had to go to the post office a couple of times and complain though because a relative is a mail carrier here. And she refused to drop my mail to the bottom. For whatever reason, she just wouldn't do it. She used to stick my mail in the next mail box over or on top of my box out in the open. We had a neighbor with a child who was left home a lot, he was about 13. He used to take apart bicycles and leave me handlebars inside my box. One time he left an open container of red Gatorade for me which was a mess.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - I agree. After what we've been through we shred everything. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Barbara Kay - I appreciate the read. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for all the information.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      We have that very shredder you've just featured. Anything with our name on it now gets shredded. This is such a big problem.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      DDE - Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A useful hub I don't have credit cards except for a debit card and no debts the idea of using another person's SSN to obtain a loan, a credit card, or utilities is so wrong trust no one and be no body's enemy an informative hub to all readers. Voted up, useful

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Shyron - Thanks for reading. That website sounds sinister. I deleted a lot of my own personal information that was floating out there via the fine print of spokeo. Plug in someone's rightful name and you can get their address, phone, a streetside google map of their residence with their car in the driveway if you're lucky, their age, names and ages of family members, religion, political affiliation, etc. etc. It is downright scary.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Jeanieinabottle - What a positive spin to put on it! Thanks for reading and commenting. You are always good for a chuckle, no matter the subject! I like that!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Hello FlourishAnyway. There is really good advice here. unfortunately, search engines are also trying to collect personal data.

      One of my friends just told me there is a lot of info about me, albeit most is faulty, I called one of the websites and they want me to pay them to delete the information and send them a copy of my drivers license.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      What an important and excellent hub! Thanks for sharing all these tips. At least I now know my poor credit score is good for something. Who would want to pretend they are me? And good luck to anyone trying to use my maxed out credit cards!

      Great hub and voted up!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      CZCZCZ - Thank you for the read and comment. I hope others can learn from what happened to my husband and I.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Dolores -I agree -- the door to door sales people are terrible! I never buy from them or from those perpetrating unsolicited phone calls. They are especially active after storms or in newly constructed neighborhoods. Everyone looking for a fast buck, even if it's not theirs.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Marcy - I'm sorry for the havoc you went through and can understand the frustration from wondering who knows what about you, given that your personal information is "out there somewhere." I hope you were able to recover well from it. Glad the tips helped moving forward.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

      Such an important topic these days! I have lost my purse or billfold only a few times, and it creates absolute havoc with everything. Identity theft is very much on the rise. These are good tips, and the information is so timely!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      What a mess. I am so sorry to hear that you went through that - it would drive me crazy. You have certainly offered excellent advise and given us all a lot to think about. We've been having a lot of door to door sales people lately, a new phenomenon around here. Maybe it's the economy, maybe all kinds of crooks are out there. Most are home improvement people.

      One guy, I made an appointment for his company to look at the roof. But I wouldn't give him my phone number. I said if something came up that I would call them. He tried to trick me into revealing the number. I laughed at his lame trick and he literally jumped up and stomped off.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 3 years ago from Oregon

      This is a lot of really good information about protecting your identity and being able to find out if something has been compromised. Thanks for sharing these details.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      So sorry to hear you had your purse stolen, travmaj. I appreciate the read and am glad that this information has helped.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      I found this interesting and useful information - several years ago I had my handbag stolen and much angst sorting everything out. This is an additional list of things to be aware of - some I hadn't considered. I will now. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the visit and votes, Thelma! Stay safe and have a great weekend too!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      Thank you for this great hub. This is very informative and useful. We should be very careful not to be stolen. Voted this up and useful. Have a lovely weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Brett, for the useful comment, shares, and vote. So many people just "chunk" their devices or donate them, trusting that nothing will ever happen to them. Then there's also the detachable in-vehicle GPS devices that have your home address plugged into them. I was disappointed when mine was stolen but really upset when the police recovered it and told me my home address was in there with the notation of *home*. Uh-oh. So many things to think about.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 3 years ago from Thailand

      A very good hub and so true. It is a shame that even when we protect our identities, the actions of others can put them at risk. One aspect you mentioned is VERY important; failing to erase your hard drive and electronic devices before tossing/recycling. It is scary how many sell and leave passwords and files on them. Also, you should securely erase the free space, to wipe it and prevent the files being 'undeleted'.

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Suzanne, there's a silver lining to everything, isn't there?!? I like your style.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank goodness the only attractive quality I have is "no criminal record"!

      Voted up and useful! :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Kasman, Thanks for the read, vote, and share. The thieves are getting scary-smart and we have to stay one step ahead of them, don't we? Glad I was able to help inspire you.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Very very detailed hub. I was almost scammed last year by a fake website that actually wanted to submit a false credit check. I was very very wary of it thankfully because I'm educated to know but I tell ya, it's scary how close you can get. I think I'm going to empty my wallet out of nothing more than the necessities. I just needed a good swift kick in the bottom to do it. Thanks for the info and I'm voting up and sharing Flourish!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Pamela99. It's amazing that organizations people trust -- whether employers, mortgage companies, or other businesses -- could be that sloppy with one couple's data. If we had lost wallets or something, we would have half-expected it. It was very frustrating that businesses we had to turn over our identifyig information to didn't safeguard it appropriately. I appreciate the read, comment and vote up.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      What an awful experience you have had with credit theft. I think you have given us a great list of things to be aware of, so we know where we are vulnerable. Voted up and very useful hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      @ agusfanani - Thank you. Ultimately, we didn't lose anything but it sure made us more aware. Credit monitoring and dealing in cash whenever possible have helped. Thanks for the read and comment.

      @ rajan - I appreciate yor reading and commenting.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 3 years ago from Indonesia

      I'm sorry for what happened to your husband. I think we have to be much more careful on our personal confidential information against Identity theft now days. Thank you for making us more aware. about this kind of crime.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting and useful info.

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