Although we've all heard about it, a common notion seems to be:
"I doubt it would happen to me. What do I have that people want to steal?”
Well, the answer may surprise you. It doesn't matter if your bank account contains a substantial amount of money or if it is virtually empty and you’re living on Ramen noodles just to get by. You are still a target for identity theft. Criminals steal identities for many reasons. Although the primary motive revolves around pilfering money, other explanations include: applying for credit cards or mortgage; obtaining employment, government benefits, tax refunds, or even medical insurance.
As one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, it is imperative to understand and recognize the emerging threat. Did you know that your chances of becoming a victim of Identity Theft are 1 in 20? So, what can you do to prevent becoming a statistic? By using some common sense and following these preventative measures, you can drastically influence your probability in becoming an identity theft victim.
Review monthly statements from financial accounts. If you don’t keep a ledger, you need to be monitoring your account on a daily basis. Know exactly what your balance is in all financial accounts at all times. Shred old financial statements and documents that has your personal information inscribed.
Don’t carry your Social Security Card in Your Wallet. Fun Fact: Social Security Numbers are issued based on location in the United States. You have a 38% chance of guessing an accurate social security number if you know the location codes.
Order and review credit reports – AnnualCreditReport.com is the only place to get your credit reports free once every 12 months. When reviewing your credit report, ensure all of your information is updated and promptly remove any outdated data.
Understand Password Safety (video link). Change passwords often (at least every 180 days). Do not use the same passwords for accounts. Use complex passwords: Upper and Lower case letters Numbers Special Characters At least 6 characters
Stay Vigilant of Scams: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It is safer to use credit cards for major or online purchases. (Assuming you pay them off every month). Why: Credit cards have strong consumer protections in place. Credit cards have fraud investigation departments that act as a middle man on your behalf. No money will be automatically debited from your financial accounts giving you a higher chance of protecting your funds.