ID Theft Is A Threat To Everyone

In today’s blog post we will examine what ID theft and ID fraud are and offer some suggestions and tips on how to avoid the fastest growing crime in the country. It is a danger and threat to us all.

What is identity theft?

The Department of Justice gives us a definition of “identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

Quite simply, it is the fastest growing crime in the United States and a threat to everyone.

Recent statistics show:

  1. Every two seconds identity fraud occurs.
  2. Figures from the Bureau of Justice show that identity theft resulted in $24.7 billion in financial losses last year.
  3. One of every fourteen Americans 16 or older was a target or a victim of identity theft.
  4. 29% spent a month or more resolving problems.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service id theft facts show that “among households in which at least one member experienced one or more types of identity theft, 64.1% experienced the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing credit card account in 2010. And that from 2005 to 2010, the percentage of all households with one or more type of identity theft that suffered no direct financial loss increased from 18.5% to 23.7%.

According to this article, several states are taking measures to protect military members from identity theft. Identity theft is such a big problem with the military because for years their Social Security numbers were printed on their ID cards. The DOD is removing barcodes that have Social Security numbers on them but the project won’t be completed until 2017. Why so long?

Integrity Adjusters, LLC is a national provider of claims administration services for the residential and commercial property and casualty insurance industry. They ensure banks on ID theft and fraud so they know a thing or two about the problem.

A recent press release from them offers some  ID fraud prevention tips.

 

ID Fraud Prevention Tips

  • Before you give out your Social Security number know how it will be used and if it will be shared.
  • When you punch in your pin number retail outlet or ATM, make sure no one is standing near you and eavesdropping.
  • Use a good quality cross-cut shredder to dispose of any mail or documents was personal information.
  • Place all outgoing mail in collection boxes were taken to the nearest post office.
  • Be suspicious when a bill does not show up. Review bank and credit card statements carefully.
  • Password protect all your financial accounts using a strong password of at least eight characters using one numerical and one capital character.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact. Monitor your free annual credit reports regularly but at least once a year.
  • When shopping online make sure there is an “HTTPS” in the URL. This designates the site is secure and your information is protected.
  • Avoid phishing schemes enticing you to reveal your personal information.
  • Look for skimming devices at ATMs and self-serve gas stations. They can read the magnetic strip on your card.
  • The days of stealing your wallet to get your personal information are old hat. Nowadays a scanning device can steal your RFID numbers off your credit cards from your purse or wallet without you even knowing it.

This website offers info on various types of fraud that can be used to steal your identity or your money. They offer tips on Internet scams too. “Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!”  The amount of trouble that it takes to prevent your identity from being stolen is absolutely nothing compared to the nightmare and time that it can take to get your credit and your identity back.

 Have you ever had your identity stolen? Please chime in with your experience. We want to hear your thoughts.