Excerpted from Every Monday Matters by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
January 23, 2010
When someone steals your name, social security number, and credit, they steal YOU. Victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for housing, cars, and education, and even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Taking simple measures to protect yourself could save you time, money, credit damage, frustration, anger, and possibly humiliation. You protect your personal belongings, why not protect your identity?
Use a paper shredder for important documents like credit applications, credit offers, insurance forms, physician statements, bank statements, and expired charge cards.
Deposit outgoing mail in collection boxes located inside the post office.
Promptly remove mail from your home or business mailbox.
Don't carry your Social Security card with you.
Keep personal information in a safe and secure location at home.
Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you are dealing.
Create passwords that are random combinations of numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lowercase letters.
Order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Do not use a public computer or one at the library. Shared computers may inadvertently help share your credit report information with others. Only access your report online via your own computer.
Check your online bank statement on a regular basis.
9.9 million adults are victims of identity fraud annually.
Nearly $50 billion is stolen from victims of identity theft every year.
$4,849 is the average fraud amount per fraud victim.
25 hours per victim is the average time required to resolve identity theft and its consequences.
2.7 million experience a PIN compromise on either their ATM/debit or credit cards.
Women are 26% more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men.
78% of identity information is obtained through traditional methods, such as lost or stolen wallets; misappropriation by family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and stolen mail or trash.