Identity Theft Can Cost You

February 3, 2011 - Erika C.
A few years ago, I was the victim of what could have been a very costly identify theft. Fortunately though, because I manage many of my personal accounts online, I take precautions to keep identity theft from occuring. Specifically, I monitor my accounts closely and frequently
 
On this particular incident, I happened to notice a very small amount — about .32 cents — was debited from my checking account. It was just out of the ordinary enough for me to contact the bank and inquire about it.
 
So I did, and it turned out that someone had my debit card information. The bank representative told me that spotting that .32 cents helped stop the thieves from charging higher amounts to my account (amounts that may not have been recovered).
 
According to a report by the Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 8 million households in the U.S. experienced some type of identify theft in 2007, the most common being unauthorized use or attempted use of a credit card, checking account, or cell phone account.
 
Thieves steal credit and debit card information through online phishing scams, dumpster diving, hacking, and a number of other ways.
 
All this thievery has reportedly cost victims nearly $5 billion over the past five years. Quite a chunk of change.
 
Not only can identity theft add up for the victim, it can be a nightmarish inconvenience to close out old accounts and open new ones, put credit card companies and credit reporting agencies on alert, and establish new passwords. In situations where a person’s name, Social Security number, and other identifying information are being used for fraudulent purposes, it can take years to sort out.  
 
There are ways to protect yourself though — monitoring your accounts and setting strong passwords are two very important ones to keep in mind.
 
  • Shred documents with personal information on them before throwing them away.
  • Keep your Social Security number safe by only using it when absolutely necessary and never carry your Social Security card around with you.
  • Only give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet if you know who you are dealing with and even then, be careful.  
  • Be overly creative with your passwords and don’t write them down or store them somewhere easily accessible. If you keep your passwords on your computer, use a password protection tool to keep them safe.
  • Always make sure to keep your personal information in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box.
  • Check your credit report as often as possible so that you know when there is a discrepancy.
  • If there is a problem, make sure you file a police report and notify the FTC.

1 Comment:

  1. December 30, 2010 - Jasmine

    Funny and relevant: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/23/a-day-with-an-e-mail-scammer/

Leave a comment:

(required):