Thursday, November 17, 2005

Arm Yourself 8 Ways Against A Typical Identity Theft

Each week we uncover new and seemingly more bold scams
to exploit the the personal identities of unsuspecting
individuals. From credit reports to medical records to
insurance files to financial transactions and direct
mail offers, our identities are widely available to
would be identity thieves in both digital and paper
form.

Why commit armed robbery against the corner
convenience store when an identity thief can steal far
more funds in a much more comfortably manner?
With a few pieces of vital information (a social security
number, billing addressee, mothers maiden name)
identity thieves can easily assume your identity.
Then, they can instantly open credit card accounts,
forge checks, make multiple retail purchases and even
apply for home equity loans. Unlike that armed robbery
of the convenience store, the victims typically are
not even aware to call the authorities right away.

Contrasting what nightly televised news historically
portrays of the typical bank or convenience store
robber, identity thieves come in an unsettling array
of uncharacteristic profiles.

"A 16-year-old girl were seen opening mailboxes in a
Wailea subdivision on Aug. 14. The two were placing
fliers advertising a baby-sitting service in mailboxes
while removing mail, police said...trying to obtain
names, addresses, Social Security numbers and other
personal information to make credit card purchases,
forge checks, transact Internet business and commit
other crimes."

"I moved apartments and put in my change of address
card with the US Post Office branch nearest me.
Unfortunately, they did not forward my mail to my new
apartment.So, when my mail was dropped at my old
location, the people that lived there just left it out
in a common area that anyone walking by could take.
Because of that, someone took all personal mail from
my bank (including statements) and credit card
applications and filled them out and sent them in my
name. I became a victim of identity theft as
a result." - MyIdFix

The impact on the identity theft victim can be
devastating.

"She knew everything about me.."She knew I was
married, where I lived, that I drove a Mercedes….

...the thief had also rented a luxury apartment with a
pool, a fitness center and views of the Pacific Ocean.
She signed up for utilities, cell phones, Internet
service and cable. She opened multiple financial
accounts and ran up nearly $10,000 in bills."

Creditors began hounding...demanding payment for
goods and services she'd never ordered. She began to
have trouble sleeping and felt constant anxiety.

I was afraid to go to the mailbox or answer the phone"
-CNN

Want to arm yourself with knowledge on how to fight
back against those identity thieves lurking in the
shadows waiting to steal your identity?

Start here by considering these tactics to thwart what
is still a mostly low tech crime:

  1. Buy a cross cut shredder and use it for your old
    banking statements and mail containing SSN.
  2. Install a lockable mail box
  3. When you move residences, get a confirmation letter
    from the USPS office near you upon filing a permanent
    change of address or arrange to have the mail held at
    their office for your pick up
  4. Call your banking and credit providers to place
    passwords or security questions on your accountsthat
    only you want know
  5. Reduce your mail theft potential by switching over to
    electronically delivered statements
  6. Opt out from pre-approved credit solicitations (a
    member of our staff learned this week her file had
    been accessed 11 times within the last 12 months, but
    she could not remember getting mailed all those 11 times)
  7. Enroll in a reputable credit monitoring service along
    with getting your free credit report snapshot
  8. Conduct a thorough public records search on your name
    and social security number to prevent someone else's
    identity theft from becoming your own simply due to
    you having similar names.

  9. Check out our recommended resources section for help and
    also tell your friends how you are now armed with your spam
    free subscription to identity theft secrets.


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