How To Protect Your Identity!

By: April Burchard

Precautions You Should Take To Protect Your Identity!

  • Never give out your social security number unless it is absolutely necessary for what you need to do.
  • Even if you have to give it out, make sure you know for sure who you are giving it to. Being comfortable with them is not enough. Know the other party and what they do, how they will use that number and where their privacy policy is located.
  • Do not carry your social security card anywhere.
  • Get a paper shredder so no one can piece together important information (at the very least, rip up the documents yourself)
  • Protect those PIN numbers – Cover the number pad when you are entering pins at the ATM machine and never tell anyone about them. Also, never use something like 1234 as your pin please.
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Statistics About Identity Theft!

Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion.*

On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.

Close to 100 million additional Americans have their personal identifying information placed at risk of identity theft each year when records maintained in government and corporate databases are lost or stolen.
These alarming statistics demonstrate identity theft may be the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the United States.


Steps You Should Take To Protect Your Identity!

“Step 1: Place a fraud alert on your credit files and monitor your credit reports regularly.”
Contact at least one, but preferably, all three of the credit reporting companies and tell them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Also provide a “victim’s statement” asking them to notify you before making changes on current accounts or opening new accounts. You can reach the credit bureaus a few different ways:

“Step 2: Close the accounts that you know, or believe, are not opened by you or have been tampered.”
Call each creditor and close any account that has been compromised by the identity thief. Request that the accounts be “closed by creditor’s request,” a simple “closed account” can reflect negatively on your credit report. Ask each creditor to send you the transaction records the identity thief made on your account. Creditors must provide this service, and do so at no charge.

If you encounter difficulty getting these records, send your requests by certified mail with return receipt requested so you have a document of when the creditor received your request.

“Step 3: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) .”
You can file a complaint with the FTC online by filling out an online complaint form or you can call them at the Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877- 438-4338; TTY: 1-866-653-4261. You can also notify them by sending a letter to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

“Step 4: Contact your local police or the police in that community where the identity theft took place and lodge a complaint.”
Contact and inform your local police department about the crime and submit as much proof as you can. It is recommended to supply them with a copy of your FTC ID Complaint form, your cover letter and any other paperwork that support your claims of identity theft. Once you make sure the police report contains all the affected accounts, send it to all the applicable creditors.

“Step 5: Change all your account passwords.”
If the identity theft involves your ATM or debit card, change their PIN's. Add passwords to any account that doesn't have one and avoid obvious passwords.