Identity Theft, for the most part, is credit card fraud or bank fraud where a thief plots to steal from you. Simply by gaining access to your Social Security number (SSN) or an existing account number the thief can create new credit, bank and store accounts for which they never intend to repay ruining your good name and your credit.
How Identify Theft Occurs
There are several conventional methods employed to gain access to your personal information. The thief seeks out credit card or bank statements in your trash. They steal incoming or outgoing mail. They may steal your purse or wallet. They also commit phone or email scams. The truly bold simply break into your residence.
- Order a copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus at least once each year and verify that your information is accurate.
- Deposit your outgoing mail in a post office collection box or local post office instead of an unsecured mailbox. Remove incoming mail promptly.
- Tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications or offers, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, and expired charge cards.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and contact your creditors if a bill doesn’t arrive on schedule. A missing bill could signal that your account has been taken over by an identity thief who changed your billing address.
- Use a secure browser – software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your date of birth, the last four digits of your Social Security Number, or your phone number.
- In your home avoid making personal information accessible – especially if you have roommates or employ outside help.
- Don't give out your personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated contact and are sure you are dealing with a reputable company.
- Never carry your Social Security card. Memorize your Social Security Number and give it out only when absolutely necessary.
Identity theft insurance can be added to your Homeowners, Renter, or Condo policies. Call or contact us today for more information and protect yourself and your credit!