Monday, August 14, 2006

DefendU on Identity Theft

Defend University is a great ongoing resource for self-defense and defensive tactics information. Here, they discuss something that's timely, considering the high-profile incidents in the past year.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity theft has doubled since 2001.

Don't think it can't happen to you and don't think it's not that big of a deal. At the very least, you'll spend an average of $1,000 clearing your name and restoring your credit standing and it can take years to clean up the mess.

Because of the bad credit you'll have until you can get everything restored you will have trouble getting loans, home mortgages, even lose out on job opportunities...

Follow these simple steps to avoid being a victim:

• Shred all financial and personal information before throwing it away.

• Never leave mail overnight in your mailbox. Meth addicts are big into stealing mail with an eye toward finding utility bill payments. Your information can be purloined, your checks washed and you won't even know it for about a month.

• Mail your bill payments and other financial materials from the metal U.S. mailboxes. Those flimsy aluminum mail boxes found in office buildings and apartments are easy to pry open.

• Do not include personal information, such as your full name, address and phone number, on printed checks. Don't laugh, I see it all the time. I've even had bank tellers tell me privately that they have fictitious addresses on their checks.

• Cancel unused credit card accounts and cut up the cards before disposing. Come on, do I really need to tell you this?

• Carry only what you need in your wallet (leave out unnecessary credit cards, checks, etc.) If you lose your wallet (happens all the time) or you are mugged, pickpocketed or robbed, you won't lose everything -- meaning you will have access to some credit or cash while you are getting all of your other cards reissued.

• Never give Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or other personal financial information to anybody on the telephone. Again, don't laugh, people do it.

• Request copies of your credit report periodically to see if someone is trying to apply for credit under your name.

You might consider having your mail go to a commercial mail box location or a Post Office Box. That way you don't have a direct link to your home address for identity thieves.

Protecting yourself from this new threat will require you to change your thinking about how you protect your information. And you will have to have the discipline to continue your security procedures. Remember, you have to be careful all the time. The identity thief just needs to get lucky once.

Tags: , , ,

No comments: