Identity theft occurs when, among other things, someone uses your personal information, without permission or consent.
Identity thieves usually target the following personal information such as:
Your Name – Date of Birth – Phone Number – Email Address – Bank or Credit Card Account Number – Social Security Number – Driver’s License Number – Passwords and PIN’s – Medical or Dental Information – Vehicle Identification Number – Tax Payer Identification – Signatures
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
- Pickpockets: Steal your wallet or purse
- Dumpster Divers: Rummage through trash
- Shoulder Surfers: Spy your PIN at ATMs, Phone Booths or cashiers
- Skimmers: Use handheld readers to steal credit card information at shops or restaurants
- Phishers: Send fraudulent (though authentic looking) emails requesting personal information
- Hackers: Steal your information via Internet
- Flaggers: Target mailboxes with “flag” up to steal checks, credit card offers and statements
- Pharmers: Call on phone posing as a business
- Directors: Complete change of address forms to redirect your mail and/or their bills
- Posers: Introduce themselves as your landlord, property manager or other authority demanding personal information
- Insiders: Most common of all, they are family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors and others with access to your information
Possible Warning Signs of ID Theft:
- Change of Name or Address on an Account
- Missing Bills or Statements
- Change of Account Terms
- Unrecognized Accounts on Credit Report
- Unexpected Credit Denial
How Can I Protect My Identity?
An ounce of ID theft prevention is worth a pound of ID theft cure:
- Remove mail from your box promptly and mail items at the post office or from secured letter boxes.
- Guard your credit cards. Sign with permanent ink. Leave in a secure place at home.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. Call a creditor immediately if you notice a change.
- Safeguard personal information (including passwords and PIN’s) in your home.
- Request fraud alerts if necessary.
- Check your credit report for errors regularly at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Shred documents going into trash or recycling.
- Be careful about giving out personal information.
- Consider opting out of pre-approved credit card offers at 1-888-567-8688 or by visiting www.OptOutPrescreen.com.
If you have any questions, would like to discuss your financial challenges, or are just looking for advice, please contact us at your convenience. As always, we are here to help you and look forward to hearing from you.