Identity theft has increased over 100% since 2010. Identity thieves impersonate 35,000 people daily, wreaking havoc on the finances and credit of 13 million victims annually.
Statistic Brain Research Institute reports the breakdown of identity theft into the following categories:
- 1% misuse of credit card
- 35% misuse of existing bank accounts
- 2% misuse of personal information
The average loss experienced per identity theft is $5,130.
People have flocked to credit monitoring services for a sense of security. Yet they let you know when you have become a victim – after the fact.
There are basic steps that can build a protective wall around your identity. Good news – you don’t have to be a computer geek to accomplish these steps.
Since credit card fraud has the highest incidence of identity theft, let’s start there with basic protective actions.
Choose a credit card company wisely. Javelin Strategy and Research ranked 20 credit card issuers based on the security measures they offer to prevent, detect and resolve fraud.
Online shopping is a big part of our culture. Make sure you are only making purchases on websites with https://. The “s” stands for security.
Example: My business credit card has been compromised twice. Once I was alerted to large purchases being made that were out of character – $800 of janitorial supplies in Florida and a set of silverware in New York while I resided in Idaho.
Review your credit card statement immediately and closely when you receive it. Be sure you recognize every charge on your account – no matter how small. Thieves are testing a card with small purchases before becoming more active with it.
Example: Using my own detective work, I noticed a charge I didn’t recognize. When I called the company, it was selling supplements in Mexico; not my purchase. Both times I went through the painful process of closing the account and opening a new account with a new card.
Shred all personal information including credit card applications. Use a micro-shredder that makes confetti out of documents. Software exists that can reconstruct shredding done in strips.
It may seem simplistic, but never give personal information over the phone – even if they claim to be your bank. Hang up and call the bank directly to handle any questions or issues.
Remember, the IRS and the Social Security Administration will never call you. They correspond by mail. It gives them a paper trail if it is needed later.
Credit card applications are also a source of identity theft. Offers come in the mail that may be siphoned out along the way. To stop pre-approved credit card offers call 1-888-5-optout (567-8688) or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com.
Stay tuned for more actions that you can take to protect your identity.
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