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Get in touch with Identity Theft:
Last year alone, 8.1 million Americans became victims of ID theft, resulting in the loss of $45 billion, according to a 2008 report from Javelin Strategy and Research. The report notes that the majority (56 percent) of ID theft occurs when the thief has direct contact with the victim’s personal information, through a stolen or lost wallet, rifling through a personal mailbox or trashcan, or even lifting documents from inside a home or business. Did you know that roughly 17 people per minute have their identity stolen.
Five Twists on Identity Theft:
1. Government benefits—Someone steals your identity and files a bogus tax refund with the IRS to get a tax refund that is not due to you (or to the thief). You have to either pay the government back or prove your identity was stolen. Learn more.
2. Utility—Your cousin with bad credit uses your Social Security number to run up a phone bill in your name. When you apply for credit, you can be denied. It can take many months, or longer, to clean up your credit history.
3. Employment—An illegal immigrant may use your Social Security number to get a job since he or she cannot legally work in the U.S.A. Learn more.
4. Alias—Your neighbor was cited for a violation of law and gave the officer your name as his own. Since you were unaware, you didn’t show up for court and an arrest warrant is issued in your name. Learn more.
5. Medical—Someone needs major surgery but does not have insurance. He or she steals your information and has the procedure. It becomes a part of your medical history and you are billed for the deductible. Do you know what’s on your medical history? If not, check your MIB report for accuracy now! Learn more.
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Scammers can get your information by stealing mail and trash or forwarding your mail to their P.O. Box. Another common tactic is skimming (stealing credit card numbers by using an electrical device). The latest pretexting fraud is based on the upcoming presidential election. If you receive a call asking for your Social Security number#or credit card information to verify that you are registered to vote, beware! Callers claim to need your Social Security number or other personal information as a pretext to register you to vote or to confirm your registration; this could be a fraud designed to steal your personal information and use it to commit identity theft. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you know who is requesting that information and how it will be used.
Take a look at one of the many phishing emails that could target you through your own email account. Phishing Email.pdf
Remember to be careful on social networking sites as well. Responding to unsolicited messages and downloading files puts you at risk for virus attacks and id theft. All information you post may be public including your profile picture. People are shocked when they find out their photo is being used for a profile that is not their own. Keep your profile private and only add people to your friend list that you know well; for added protection don’t post personal photos and do not put any private info online.
GAME—ID THEFT FACE OFF
How to prevent ID Theft:
At home lock up important documents, shred rather than trash, and send mail out from mail drop bins. If you stop getting mail contact the post office ASAP!
How to spot ID Theft:
The best way find out if you are a victim is to reconcile your checkbook monthly and read all credit card statements carefully. Stagger your credit reports—get one report each four months from a different bureau. If you do it this way you can monitor your credit report throughout the year for free. Click for more information.
Should I use a credit monitoring service? There are a variety of commercial services that, for a fee, will monitor your credit reports for activity and alert you to changes to your accounts. Prices and services vary widely. Many of the services only monitor one of the three major consumer reporting companies. If you're considering signing up for a service, make sure you understand what you're getting before you buy. Also check out the company at bbb.org to see if they have any complaints on file. If you are a victim:
There are a variety of commercial services that, for a fee, will monitor your credit reports for activity and alert you to changes to your accounts. Prices and services vary widely. Many of the services only monitor one of the three major consumer reporting companies. If you're considering signing up for a service, make sure you understand what you're getting before you buy. Also check out the company at bbb.org to see if they have any complaints on file.
If you are a victim:
If you’re a victim of identity theft file a police report, place a fraud report on your credit reports, close the accounts that have been compromised, and contact the FTC. Complete an id theft affidavit to organize all of the information that you will need to successfully get your identity back in your control.
Be proactive--shred your sensitive material for free on April 19, 2009.