Identity Theft and You
Identity theft affects millions of people each year - 8.1 million Americans last year alone lost $37 billion, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. The only good news in that fact is that it represents a reduction from the previous year of 28%. The bad news is that although fewer people were affected, the average per incident loss jumped from $387 to $631.
So what's the best way to protect ourselves from I.D. theft? The answer lies in being careful and diligent in several areas of our daily lives.
- Gather mail promptly - don't let it sit overnight or days on end in your mailbox. I.D. thieves love nothing more than a mailbox full of bills, bank statements, and credit card offers from which they can harvest sensitive information.
- Shred identifying papers and envelopes before throwing them in the trash.
- Keep your trash receptacle close to the house in a well lit area and only take it to the curb on pickup day. I.D. thieves don't mind poking through your garbage for a payoff.
- Fully review bank, credit card, and utility statements upon receipt for suspicious or fraudulent activity. Notify the issuer if you suspect charges are not yours.
- Review your credit reports once per year to ensure no one has taken out credit in your name. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to acquire reports from the three major bureaus free of charge.
- Avoid revealing your address, phone numbers, or banking information when talking on a cell phone in public or crowded places. You never know who's listening.
By taking just a little time and care, you can avoid the hours and hours lost trying to repair your good name and financial standing.