Identity Theft – The Problem is Huge…and Growing

According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, identity theft is now passing up drug trafficking as the number one crime in the nation. Studies estimate the victim population now at 15 million annually. Identity theft takes many forms – thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. While some victims can resolve their problem quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.

Here are Some Simple Preventative Measures:

  • Treat your mail carefully. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes rather than unsecured mailboxes. If you are going to be out of town, arrange for someone to collect your mail.
  • Shred documents that contain personal or account information rather than simply throwing such information in the trash. Lock up personal information at home.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer and download updates regularly.
  • Do not provide your social security number for any transaction that does not involve tax reporting or the granting of a loan. Your social security number should not be carried in your wallet or used as an account or other identifying number.
  • Do not include driver license and/or birth date information on checks.
  • Monitor your credit information to ensure that you are aware of all open accounts. Rigorously follow-up on any indication that your personal information has been stolen or is being misused. You can now put a fraud alert on your account by contacting one of the three credit bureaus.

Be careful!