An estimated 11 million Americans discovered that they were
victims of some form of identity theft last year. Everyone is
susceptible to identity theft; the young or old, rich or poor, even
minors. Here are some important tips and facts about identity theft
so you can avoid becoming a victim.
1. Thieves do not need your credit card to steal your identity. Thieves
need only one piece of information about you like your social
security or birthdate. Then they have what they need. Don’t give
out your social security number on the phone or internet unless you
have an existing relationship with that person or business.
2. A thief can easily obtain personal information about you
online. Nonfinancial information is easily accessible on social
networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin. Be careful and think
twice before you list your address and/or birthdate on your social
3. Watch your monthly bills and make sure you receive your
credit card statements and ordered checks. Identity thieves can
intercept credit card bills to change the billing address. They can
rack up a lot of charges on your credit card and write checks
before you realize it is stolen.
4. Review your bank and credit card statements carefully for
small charges. Thieves will test out the account by charging a
small amount before making a large purchase. Fraud alerts are
generally not activated by purchases under a certain dollar
5. Review your credit report regularly. You are entitled to ONE
FREE COPY of each of your three credit reports every twelve (12)
months by accessing this website: www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling:
6. If an ATM does not look right, do not use it. If the card
feels differently after you swipe it or the machine looks unusual,
avoid the machine or immediately cancel the transaction. There
could be a credit card skimmer that will capture your information
attached to the ATM.
7. Identity thieves can be sneaky, so you need to be sneaky too.
For example, sign your name on the back of your credit card with a
Sharpie so it can’t be erased. Watch for others in line behind you
trying to look over your shoulder.
8. Pay attention when you pay with a credit card. Watch the
cashier take the card through the process if you can. Make sure
that they are not swiping the card through another reading device.
If the purchase seems suspicious in any way, check your statements
for unusual activity.
9. Go paperless and become friendly with the shredder. If
possible, get your monthly financial statements and bills sent to
you electronically. Invest in a shredder and shred all
documents that contain personal and financial information.
10. To learn more about protecting your identity, contact my
office for a free copy of our Identity Theft Kit. /blog/2011/10/11/identity-theft-kit/
Most importantly, if you have questions about your identity that
remains unanswered or your credit report has errors and you don’t
know where to turn, give my office a call for a free,
confidential case review.