- Personal Finance
Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft
The Menace of Identity Theft and How to Avoid it
Unfortunately, most people wait until they have a credit card stolen before they worry about how to begin preventing or how to stop ID theft. Once the crime has occurred, restoration of your credentials involves a lot of work - the first part just learning where to do all the reporting to everyone who will need to know. Statistics are staggering! To restore your identity you need a lot of information. Our guide can help start you down the path to recovery.
As the public has become more aware of this serious problem, the topic of identity theft has begun to crop up in the news and even in television commercials. Who hasn't received an email claiming that "we've lost your account information, please fill out the following form"? (this is referred to as "phishing") These attempts at theft occur everyday and there are even more sophisticated methods that thieves use to acquire your personal information. Once they get the data they are seeking, the results can be devastating. CitiBank ran a series of comical advertisements about identify theft to help highlight their efforts. Yet even if you are a CitiBank customer, you need to know and do so much more to protect yourself.
Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Many Americans are caught off guard when they receive a credit card bill for expenses they did not incur that had been run up by identity thieves. The activity of identity thieves that is on the rise is causing gross inconvenience and much heart aches to unsuspecting victims. Victims receive demands to pay up for shady expenditures they never incur and family savings are being drained through misuse of credit cards by identity theft.
As part of your daily routing, you strive to keep your credit clean and save for a rainy day and so you can enjoy the benefits of all that hard work only to find out that someone has used your name to obtain a credit card and has run up thousands of dollars in charges that you are now going to have to convince the credit card company that you are not responsible for. Some individuals found that bank accounts are opened in their names and debts to the bank have been incurred, of which you are liable to pay. There are others who are charged for crimes committed in their names, of which they know nothing.
The statistics are alarming. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group states that more than 100 million records with sensitive private information have been stolen from Americans since 2005. More than 670,000 identities were stolen last year alone. With these white collar crimes on the rise, what chances are there for you to protect yourself from falling victims to these thieves? Innocent people are being arrested because someone else has committed crimes using their identity. This is very damaging to the individual's identity.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
If you receive your mail at your house it should be a red flag if you don't receive your mail for more than a couple of days. Others may be receiving their mail but that does not mean that your mail is not misdirected to another address. A change of address form does not redirect mail for everyone in the house, it just affects the person that thieves targeted with a forged form.
Consider mailing your letters and bills in a public mailbox instead of from your home mailbox. Send bills and other important mail before the final collection time for the mailbox because thieves are known to tamper and steal from public mailboxes at night. You should also immediately collect your mail as soon as it arrives at your mailbox and do not leave it sitting in the mailbox overnight. Install electronic sensors in your home that alert you with a signal inside your home that the mailbox has been opened. You can use your imagination regarding other safety measures and it would be great if you can discuss with friends and neighbors on how to beat the identity thieves at their own game of identity theft.
Use a shredder to dispose of any information that contains credit card numbers, account numbers for banks or anything else with your name and address on it. DO NOT throw these items in the garbage. Believe it or not, people will actually go through your garbage in search of such items.
Many insurance companies now offer protection against identity theft, for a small premium. It may be in your best interest to add this to your existing insurance policy.