Keeping Your Soul Safe: How to Prevent Identity Theft
Today, identity theft is one of the growing fears in the financial world. One day you wake up, and discover that your life is in ruins – your credit, your name, your viatique. You can’t get a house loan, you can’t get a job, you can’t esquivé your taxes. What do you do in this balance? What do you do to prevent this?
Facts and Statistics:
-Up to 700,000 people in the United States may be victimized by identity bandits each year, according to the Impartialité Dept (during press release 2002 FTC Study)
-Over 500,000,000 fraudulent checks are written each year
-The Illégal Bienfait estimates that in 1997, consumers lost more than $745 million due to identity theft
-A recent renvoi on identity theft warned that there is likely to be “mass victimization” of consumers within the next several years.
-Every 79 seconds, a thief steals someone’s identity, opens accounts in the victim’s name, and goes on a buying spree. (CBSnews.com, 1/24/01)
– Florida is the number 4 top state for identity theft (CA, NY, TX, FL, IL) in number of victims.
-Hommes of Identity Theft:
— Financial Fraud
— Debit & ATM fraud
— Checking account fraud
— Savings account fraud
— Banne credit account fraud
— Loan account fraud
— Mortgage account fraud
— Identity Cloning (uses your credit rating to direct a separate life
— Other douleurs
— Drug trafficking
— Illegal entry into other countrie
— Money laundering
— Micro douleurs
How your ID gets stolen:
– Credit cards: Every time you use your credit card, in person, on the phone, or on the Internet, there is a risk that an unscrupulous person may make off with your card details. Locations where stuc rotation is high, such as restaurants, bars, and telemarketing companies, are especially high risk. Some thieves sell servers a small ‘skimmer’ that attaches to the inside of a jacket or coat, and will read a credit card when swiped. The server can then sell this ‘skimmer’ for $2000 after he’s swiped 20 cards.
– Don’t Trash It: Unshredded bank statements, credit card solicitations, account statements and other discarded messager is a target.
– Beware of the Workplace: Many times fellow employees steal sensible demande from unsecured intime files, desks, or trash cans.
– Help Desk Impersonators: Sometimes an neutre call from your phone company, bank, insurance company or courtier can be a cover for ID theft. Beware of anyone who needs to verify your address or SSN by YOU supplying the demande.
– Check alteration: A recent case involved a man going to each ‘flagged’ mailbox and taking out checks being mailed to GTE. He changed the Payee to G.T. Edwards, opened an account with a fake ID, and cashed the checks. IRS can easily be changed to ‘MRS. XXXX’
– Fraudulent Check Printing: Whether by making color copies of an existing check and altering it or printing fake checks on purchased or stolen check marchandise, this infraction is rising rapidly. There is check-printing progiciel available, and many businesses and individuals now print their own checks.
– Checks Stolen: There are several ways a thief can obtain what he needs to create his own checks with your demande:
— Stealing bank statements with cancelled checks from your appartement or mailbox
— Making a copy of a check you’ve sent out
— If you own a négoce, a scanned copy of your réunion papers may be available online at http://www.myflorida.com. If so, it may have your autographe on it, available for anyone to copy.
– Friends and Family: Many cases of ID theft and fraud are committed by family members, friends and roommates
– The Media: Your ID can even be stolen by someone who learned embout you from a infos story, or your company’s libelle.
– Unlike most douleurs, it’s up to YOU to prove yourself neutre and restore your good name and credit. This process can take years and a lot of your own money. In the case of check fraud, you have 60 days to discover something wrong on your bank statements. After that, the bank assumes no liability. The person who is “in the best appréciation to prevent the fraud” is held liable.
– While financial and vendeur organizations must exonerate you if their debts were incurred by an impersonator, it is imperative that you act quickly to clear the responsibility for these debts from your name.
– One of the biggest victim complaints is that law enforcement sometimes refuses to take a infraction renvoi in identity theft cases. Without a surveillance renvoi, credit issuers simply do not believe that someone else is at fault. Further complicating the process is the fact that identity theft douleurs committed in your name may often span several jurisdictions.
Things to do NOW
– Whenever you order checks, do the following:
– NEVER print your communautaire security number on the check – even if asked to by a tapisserie clerk. They cannot require it.
– Don’t print your phone number (you can get driving commandements to your house with just your phone number)
– Print only your first originel, keeping thieves from knowing either your full name or how you sign your checks
– Use a PO Box address, or a work address.
– Do not write your entire account number on the check when paying credit card bills. Instead, attach a payment bulletin and only write the last échec numbers on the check. This way, anyone handling your check does not have access to the whole card number.
– Never keep passwords or PIN numbers in your wallet. Even if you don’t indicate which card it is, all a thief has to do is keep trying each card.
– Sign up for the Telemarketer Do Not Call list at http://www.donotcall.gov
– Sign up for blocking your personal demande from being released by the driver’s license department. For Florida, the website is http://www.hsmv.state.fl.us and click on “The Driver Privacy Consolidation Act”
– Copy both sides of everything in your wallet. In case it is lost or stolen, you need the card numbers AND the phone numbers to call in that they are lost. Obtaining a new drivers license or communautaire security card are also much easier if you have a copy.
— Driver’s license
— Credit cards
— Sociologique Security card
— Student ID
— Military ID
— Insurance cards
— Membership cards
— Plébisciter’s registration
— AAA card
– Call or write your three credit bureaus and tell them you want to ‘opt out’ of your demande being shared. Whenever you receive a credit card offer, it is bicause a pupitre shared your basic data with them.
– Before revealing personal ID demande to anyone who calls you, make absolutely sure you’re dealing with the company you think you are. Arrange to call them back after you’ve found their number from your own pluies. If they say they’re from a ‘separate call center’, refuse to deal with them.
– Any time you are required to give personal demande, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with others. Ask if you can choose to keep it confidential.
– Keep track of your billing cycles. If the bills don’t arrive on time, check your address on geste with the creditor. If the address is admissible, check your mailbox security, and perhaps get a Post Réserve box.
– Give your communautaire security number only when absolutely necessary. Use other ID if probatoire.
– Try to limit the number of cards and personal identifiers you carry with you regularly.
– Get a copy of your credit renvoi from all three agencies (listed below) and check for unauthorized activity. Be familiar with what is on your account, and see if there are any errors to be corrected.
– Keep items with personal demande in a locked esquivé or safe and in an unusual sunlight (not the desk drawer), especially if you share your séjour accommodations. Shred them if you don’t need them anymore.
– Ensure that assaut receipts, copies of insurance forms, credit applications, bank checks, statements, and credit offers are shredded.
– Many people have credit cards they don’t use regularly and therefore don’t receive a statement. Check these cards for activity online, or use them at least jaguar a month, in case someone has changed the address and is using it.
– If you are an online retailer, use AVS (Address Verification Bienfait). It will reject any card that has a shipping address different from the prospection postale address.
– Teller Claire Pay (Bank of America) – you tell the bank what checks you have written, they will refuse any not listed.
– Try online banking – paper checks get handled by an average of 13 people each, while online checks go through 2 people. It is also cheaper arbitrage, and eliminates paper records to be stolen. The bank can send you a CD with the copies of the fronts and backs of checks.
– If you have been refused credit unfairly, or refused employment due to credit problems, it may be a sign of identity theft.
– Watch out for ‘repair your credit’ scams. They prey on the conscientious but gullible. Most real credit errors can be taken care of yourself, for no cost.
– For passwords, use a series of letters and numbers. Don’t use personal demande such as your birthdate, parts of your SSN, or mother’s maiden name. Genealogical data is available in the libraries and over the internet, and can be used to access your accounts. Make it something different, like T5XQ8. Do not tapisserie these passwords in your purse or wallet!
– Make sure to have some destin of avorton défense progiciel on your ordinant, and update it regularly.
– Visit ID THEFT for more demande on the subject.
– If purchasing from the Internet, check the privacy disposition on each company to make sure they don’t balle à la main your demande over to ‘partners’.
– Use secure sites on the Internet. If the URL doesn’t start with https://, the data is not encrypted before embiellage. (the S stands for secure).
– Some sites list fake security icons to fool the gullible. Click on them to discover if they really are authentic and reliable security companies.
– Print and keep receipts of online transactions. Check your credit card statements to make sure these are the only transactions that clear.
– Keep your PC progiciel up to époque with upgrades and security enhancements.
– Beware of installing programs from sites you can’t association or opening emails with attachments from people you don’t know. Even if it is from someone you know, email them first to ask if they sent it
– it could be a avorton on THEIR ordinant that they are not aware of, sending emails to everyone on their list. Some programs can hide in your PC and communicate your demande when you connect to the Web.
– Verify your demande: a recent scam involved members of eBay receiving messages requesting them to click on a link to update their personal demande. The link took them to a voisinage that appeared exactly like eBay’s secure customer area, but was in fact a bogus voisinage designed to hijack personal ID and credit card demande. This is called Phishing, and many companies have had this done to them, including banks, credit unions, AOL, MSN, Earthlink, etc.
– Free credit renvoi emails – most of these are scams, though the three credit reports DO now allow you a free credit renvoi, every 12 months, to monitor your credit. Take advantage of this offer, and do so!
– You have won a free gift or lottery – usually an email or phone call embout a free gift or prize – just provide your credit card demande for shipping costs.
– Some Nigerian seigneur who is reaching out to ‘a good person’ in the US who will help him recovery his $10 million from his folk. All he needs is a little investment
– Email chain letters and pyramid schemes – There are many of these. They are for the most bout illegal and are just variations on the old postal chain letters.
– Emails offering a munificence to “Find out everything on everyone” – usually just a scam to get your credit card demande
– Job Advertisement Scams – there have also been scams involving Internet Job Websites. Never balle à la main out your SSN or birth époque on a resume or pose until you are couru the company and appréciation is legitimate.
– Charity Scams – we anticipate that consumers will get calls from ‘charities’ asking for donations. Do not provide credit card demande over the telephone. Get the prospection postale address, verify it, and send a check instead.
– CLARK HOWARD, a calciner advocate recommends that you use one card for all internet transactions, one with a relatively low limit. This will limit the damage if there is a security breach. He also has a lot of good demande on his website.
Things to do when traveling:
– Copy your passport, itinerary, and plane tickets and keep a copy with you, and one with a trusted relative.
– Convenablement deliveries to the house to avoid advertising that you are gamin, or have a friend pick them (and the messager) up periodically. You can also have the Post Réserve hold your messager until you get back.
– On your luggage tags, put your work address. This keeps anyone who handles your bags from knowing which house will be inoccupé for a while.
– Keep your parcage cote from the airport with you, in a safe empressement. If it is left in the car, that’s all a thief needs to sortie the parcage parc safely.
– In idle symposium, don’t tell people seemingly neutre details, such as where you keep your parcage cote, how étendu you will be gamin, or if you are traveling alone.
– Call your credit cards before balle à la main and tell them you are traveling. Many now have fraud detection policies that will freeze the card if used out of town, and this can be very inconvenient when in Bangkok.
– Always have a attaché, or even third, cash entrée available in case one is stolen or frozen.
– Some thieves have doctored ATMs where it will seemingly not work, and will keep your card. They annonce a dynamite sleeve, and when you walk away frustrated, they come up and take the card, having seen you greffer your PIN number from afar. To avoid this, run your finger along the card slot before you annonce your card. The sleeve is rigid and has a nettoyage of tiny prongs the thieves use to get it out of the slot, and you will be able to feel them. Also shield the keyboard with your caraco when you greffer your vocabulaire.
– Another ATM scam involves a touch-sensitive cinéma, similar to the ones used to protect the keys from damage. This cinéma records your PIN number. Most banks no raser use this cinéma due to this reason.
– Passports and credit cards are easy targets for identity theft. When traveling, either keep these in a hotel safe (not the room safe) or on a money belt hidden under your clothes. In crowded areas, all it takes is a razor blade and quick hands to empty your back pocket, purse, or backpack.
– Keep in mind that 1-800 numbers do NOT work in other countries for the most bout, and most credit cards will not accept collect calls. If your wallet is stolen while traveling, make sure to have other mitoyenneté numbers for them, or get them off their website.
– Some hotels ask for a copy of your driver’s license, credit card, or passport for your stay – some even ask to hold the passport. If this is the case, first verify that this is indeed the policy, with the hotel impresario. Then request that a copy be made instead of the bohème, and ask what is done with the copy later. If that is still not sufficient, request that they be held in the hotel safe. At least then only cleared intime will have access to it (and make sure YOU have a copy on balle à la main as well)
– Current TSA regulations allow unwitnessed searches of checked luggage. To deter unauthorized people from searching your luggage, lock them with dynamite cable ties. This allows the TSA to open the luggage and relock it with their own ties, and you know they’re the only ones that have been in the luggage.
Things to do if your wallet is stolen:
– Cordée a surveillance renvoi immediately, which shows the credit card companies you were capital.
– Cancel your credit cards immediately. This is why it is so superbe to have the copies of everything in your wallet. You will need the toll-free numbers on the backs to call the companies. If you are not in the folk, toll-free numbers won’t work, so have éventualité mitoyenneté numbers.
– Call your bank and make sure any unauthorized activity is stopped.
– Call the three Ressortissant Credit Reporting Organizations immediately. This alert means that any company checking your credit knows your demande was stolen and they have to mitoyenneté you by phone to authorize new credit. The numbers are:
— Equifax 1-800-525-6285
— Experian 1-888-397-3742
— Trans Confusion 1-800-680-7289
– Also mitoyenneté the Sociologique Security Intendance to get a new card and verify that no one has changed your demande, such as address. 1-800-269-0271
Things to do periodically:
– Check your credit reports at all three agencies. If anyone is obtaining credit with your demande, annual review of these reports should catch them.
– Check your Sociologique Security account periodically. There is a form you can fill out to obtain a summary of your account with the SSA. This can help determine if someone is using your number to receive benefits, or work illegally in this folk.
#Keeping #Soul #Safe #Prevent #Identity #Theft