Monday, 13 December 2010 23:15
Identity theft is a term used to describe all types of crime in which someone wrongfully takes and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception. Identity theft is a huge problem that is very difficult, time consuming and expensive to fix. Victims of identity theft spend an average of 175 hours and $800 to clear their names. It's best to be aware of the following precautions to avoid having identity theft happen to you.
• Review your credit card and bank statements to make sure the charges and transactions are accurate.
• Call your credit card company of bank/credit union if your statement is late. A late or missing statement could be a sign that someone has stolen it or changed the billing address to avoid being caught.
• Don't give personal information on the phone, online, or through the mail unless you are positive that the person getting the information is who you think they are.
• Tear or shred any documents containing personal information.
• Take your outgoing mail to a post office box rather than using your own mailbox. Many identity thieves steal information right out of people's mailboxes.
• Keep your Social Security card in a safe place—don't carry it with you! Also, carry as few ID and credit cards with you as possible.
• Do not have your driver's license number or Social Security number printed on your checks.
• Don't give out your Social Security number unless you absolutely must. If at all possible, use other identification.
• Consider ordering a copy of your credit reports once a year to verify their accuracy.
If you feel that you have been a vicitim or identity theft, here's what you do:
1. Report the theft with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are the three major credit bureaus.
2. Close all accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened.
3. File a report with your local police.
4. Check out the ID Theft Affidavit provided by the FTC to help you organize and record your complaint.
5. If the theft involves your Social Security number, call 800.269.0271 or visit the Social Security Administration's website.
Do you know anyone who has been a victm of identity theft?
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