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Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime that is becoming much more widespread, especially with the higher degree of technology available to today's criminal. Identity theft involves using another's personal identification or credit related information to illicitly gain cash, goods or services. Any personal information or credit information that is not carefully guarded can provide a window of opportunity for these predatory thieves. Therefore, the consumer must protect himself or herself by being aware. It is imperative to pay attention to how service workers handle a credit card and any resulting paper information.

In America, there are thousands of people each year who report that they have been the victims of identity theft. On top of this fact, there are many identity theft-related crimes that are not even unreported! Believe it or not, because of the huge cost associated with fixing this crime, the victims are embarrassed to claim that this has occurred. To date, victims who have reported this crime, have spent more than 175 hours and more than $10,000 per incident just to resolve these problems. It is obvious by these facts that the consequences of identity theft and fraud can be staggering! There are many steps that you can take today to protect yourself from ever having to deal with this crime.

One of the best ways to check for identity fraud, identity theft or stolen identity is to constantly monitor your credit file. All of the three major credit bureaus will provide you with this service. You can do a simple search online to find hundreds of companies willing to conduct this very service for you. Online credit report services are convenient and provide you with instant access. Very handy when just learning that someone has stolen your personal credit information. Monitoring your credit file will afford you much needed peace of mind. Any type of credit transaction stolen and used in your name will turn up on your report so check often. Check your credit profile and credit rating to learn quickly if something unusual has turned up in your name.

Once you have been taken advantage of in just this way prepare for a long and expensive road ahead. You will now need to go about your business erasing negative credit, and educating yourself in all there is to know about theft protection. Obviously, had you known to do this earlier you would not have become a victim. All is not lost, there are excellent resources available to help you in your time of need.

Your Best Plan to Reduce Risk
  • Think twice before handing out your personal information to others unless you have good reason to trust them, regardless of where you are.
  • Think smart. Should a bank rep contact your asking your for information already on file with your credit report don't risk giving it out again. Simply state that information is already on file.
  • Have your bank checks printed with only the least amount of personal information as possible. For instance you need not have your home phone number of SS number printed for the world to see. Give that out to only those needing it for legitimate reasons and protect yourself that much more.
  • When dealing with someone by phone and they require your personal contact information such as SS number or mother's maiden name request that they send a written request only. You will be able to verify their legitimacy this way.
  • Should any caller refuse to go along with your request and insist your comply with their terms, hang up the phone. They are likely a fraud!
  • Review a copy of your credit report on a regular basis.
  • Maintain good records of all of your financial and personal dealings involving the use of your identification.