Keeping Your Soul Safe: How to Prevent Identity Theft

At present, identification theft is likely one of the rising fears within the monetary world. At some point you get up, and uncover that your life is in ruins – your credit score, your title, your funds. You’ll be able to’t get a home mortgage, you’ll be able to’t get a job, you’ll be able to’t file your taxes. What do you do on this scenario? What do you do to stop this?

Details and Statistics:

-As much as 700,000 folks in the US could also be victimized by identification bandits annually, in line with the Justice Dept (throughout press launch 2002 FTC Examine)

-Over 500,000,000 fraudulent checks are written annually

-The Secret Service estimates that in 1997, customers misplaced greater than $745 million because of identification theft

-A current report on identification theft warned that there’s more likely to be “mass victimization” of customers throughout the subsequent a number of years.

-Each 79 seconds, a thief steals somebody’s identification, opens accounts within the sufferer’s title, and goes on a shopping for spree. (, 1/24/01)

– Florida is the quantity 4 prime state for identification theft (CA, NY, TX, FL, IL) in variety of victims.

-Sorts of Identification Theft:

— Monetary Fraud

— Debit & ATM fraud

— Checking account fraud

— Financial savings account fraud

— Retailer credit score account fraud

— Mortgage account fraud

— Mortgage account fraud

— Identification Cloning (makes use of your credit standing to stay a separate life

— Different crimes

— Drug trafficking

— Smuggling

— Unlawful entry into different countrie

— Terrorism

— Cash laundering

— Laptop crimes

— Shoplifting

— Housebreaking

How your ID will get stolen:

– Bank cards: Each time you employ your bank card, in individual, on the telephone, or on the Web, there’s a danger that an unscrupulous individual might make off together with your card particulars. Areas the place workers turnover is excessive, corresponding to eating places, bars, and telemarketing firms, are particularly excessive danger. Some thieves promote servers a small ‘skimmer’ that attaches to the within of a jacket or coat, and can learn a bank card when swiped. The server can then promote this ‘skimmer’ for $2000 after he is swiped 20 playing cards.

– Do not Trash It: Unshredded financial institution statements, bank card solicitations, account statements and different discarded mail is a goal.

– Watch out for the Office: Many instances fellow workers steal delicate data from unsecured personnel information, desks, or trash cans.

– Assist Desk Impersonators: Typically an harmless name out of your telephone firm, financial institution, insurance coverage firm or dealer is usually a cowl for ID theft. Watch out for anybody who must confirm your tackle or SSN by YOU supplying the knowledge.

– Test alteration: A current case concerned a person going to every ‘flagged’ mailbox and taking out checks being mailed to GTE. He modified the Payee to G.T. Edwards, opened an account with a faux ID, and cashed the checks. IRS can simply be modified to ‘MRS. XXXX’

– Fraudulent Test Printing: Whether or not by making coloration copies of an present examine and altering it or printing faux checks on bought or stolen examine inventory, this crime is rising quickly. There may be check-printing software program obtainable, and plenty of companies and people now print their very own checks.

– Checks Stolen: There are a number of methods a thief can acquire what he must create his personal checks together with your data:

— Stealing financial institution statements with cancelled checks from your house or mailbox

— Making a duplicate of a examine you have despatched out

— When you personal a enterprise, a scanned copy of your incorporation papers could also be obtainable on-line at If that’s the case, it could have your signature on it, obtainable for anybody to repeat.

– Buddies and Household: Many circumstances of ID theft and fraud are dedicated by relations, pals and roommates

– The Media: Your ID may even be stolen by somebody who realized about you from a information story, or your organization’s brochure.

– In contrast to most crimes, it is as much as YOU to show your self harmless and restore your good title and credit score. This course of can take years and a whole lot of your individual cash. Within the case of examine fraud, you might have 60 days to find one thing incorrect in your financial institution statements. After that, the financial institution assumes no legal responsibility. The one who is “in the most effective place to stop the fraud” is held liable.

– Whereas monetary and industrial organizations should exonerate you if their money owed have been incurred by an impersonator, it’s crucial that you simply act shortly to clear the accountability for these money owed out of your title.

– One of many greatest sufferer complaints is that legislation enforcement generally refuses to take a criminal offense report in identification theft circumstances. And not using a police report, credit score issuers merely don’t consider that another person is at fault. Additional complicating the method is the truth that identification theft crimes dedicated in your title might usually span a number of jurisdictions.

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Issues to do NOW

– Everytime you order checks, do the next:

– NEVER print your social safety quantity on the examine – even when requested to by a retailer clerk. They can not require it.

– Do not print your telephone quantity (you may get driving instructions to your home with simply your telephone quantity)

– Print solely your first preliminary, protecting thieves from understanding both your full title or the way you signal your checks

– Use a PO Field tackle, or a piece tackle.

– Don’t write your whole account quantity on the examine when paying bank card payments. As a substitute, connect a cost coupon and solely write the final 4 numbers on the examine. This fashion, anybody dealing with your examine doesn’t have entry to the entire card quantity.

– By no means preserve passwords or PIN numbers in your pockets. Even in case you do not point out which card it’s, all a thief has to do is preserve making an attempt every card.

– Join the Telemarketer Do Not Name listing at

– Join blocking your private data from being launched by the motive force’s license division. For Florida, the web site is and click on on “The Driver Privateness Safety Act”

– Copy either side of every little thing in your pockets. In case it’s misplaced or stolen, you want the cardboard numbers AND the telephone numbers to name in that they’re misplaced. Acquiring a brand new drivers license or social safety card are additionally a lot simpler when you have a duplicate.

— Driver’s license

— Bank cards

— Social Safety card

— Scholar ID

— Army ID

— Insurance coverage playing cards

— Membership playing cards

— Voter’s registration

— Passport

— AAA card

– Name or write your three credit score bureaus and inform them you need to ‘decide out’ of your data being shared. Everytime you obtain a bank card supply, it’s as a result of a bureau shared your fundamental knowledge with them.

– Earlier than revealing private ID data to anybody who calls you, make completely certain you are coping with the corporate you assume you’re. Organize to name them again after you have discovered their quantity from your individual sources. If they are saying they’re from a ‘separate name middle’, refuse to take care of them.

– Any time you’re required to present private data, learn how it is going to be used and if it is going to be shared with others. Ask in case you can select to maintain it confidential.

– Maintain monitor of your billing cycles. If the payments do not arrive on time, examine your tackle on report with the creditor. If the tackle is right, examine your mailbox safety, and maybe get a Submit Workplace field.

– Give your social safety quantity solely when completely vital. Use different ID if doable.

– Attempt to restrict the variety of playing cards and private identifiers you carry with you recurrently.

– Get a duplicate of your credit score report from all three companies (listed under) and examine for unauthorized exercise. Be accustomed to what’s in your account, and see if there are any errors to be corrected.

– Maintain gadgets with private data in a locked file or secure and in an uncommon spot (not the desk drawer), particularly in case you share your dwelling lodging. Shred them in case you do not want them anymore.

– Be certain that cost receipts, copies of insurance coverage varieties, credit score functions, financial institution checks, statements, and credit score affords are shredded.

– Many individuals have bank cards they do not use recurrently and due to this fact do not obtain a press release. Test these playing cards for exercise on-line, or use them a minimum of as soon as a month, in case somebody has modified the tackle and is utilizing it.

– In case you are a web-based retailer, use AVS (Tackle Verification Service). It can reject any card that has a transport tackle completely different from the mailing tackle.

– Teller Optimistic Pay (Financial institution of America) – you inform the financial institution what checks you might have written, they may refuse any not listed.

– Strive on-line banking – paper checks get dealt with by a mean of 13 folks every, whereas on-line checks undergo 2 folks. Additionally it is cheaper transaction, and eliminates paper data to be stolen. The financial institution can ship you a CD with the copies of the fronts and backs of checks.

– In case you have been refused credit score unfairly, or refused employment because of credit score issues, it could be an indication of identification theft.

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– Be careful for ‘restore your credit score’ scams. They prey on the conscientious however gullible. Most actual credit score errors could be taken care of your self, for no price.

– For passwords, use a collection of letters and numbers. Do not use private data corresponding to your birthdate, elements of your SSN, or mom’s maiden title. Genealogical knowledge is accessible within the libraries and over the web, and can be utilized to entry your accounts. Make it one thing completely different, like T5XQ8. Don’t retailer these passwords in your purse or pockets!

– Ensure that to have some type of virus safety software program in your pc, and replace it recurrently.

– Go to ID THEFT for extra data on the topic.

Web Safety

– If buying from the Web, examine the privateness clause on every firm to ensure they do not hand your data over to ‘companions’.

– Use safe websites on the Web. If the URL does not begin with https://, the info isn’t encrypted earlier than transmission. (the S stands for safe).

– Some websites listing faux safety icons to idiot the gullible. Click on on them to find if they are surely genuine and dependable safety firms.

– Print and preserve receipts of on-line transactions. Test your bank card statements to ensure these are the one transactions that clear.

– Maintain your PC software program updated with upgrades and safety enhancements.

– Beware of putting in packages from websites you’ll be able to’t belief or opening emails with attachments from folks you do not know. Even whether it is from somebody you realize, electronic mail them first to ask in the event that they despatched it

– it may very well be a virus on THEIR pc that they aren’t conscious of, sending emails to everybody on their listing. Some packages can conceal in your PC and talk your data whenever you connect with the Internet.

– Confirm your data: a current rip-off concerned members of eBay receiving messages requesting them to click on on a hyperlink to replace their private data. The hyperlink took them to a web site that appeared precisely like eBay’s safe buyer space, however was the truth is a bogus web site designed to hijack private ID and bank card data. That is known as Phishing, and plenty of firms have had this performed to them, together with banks, credit score unions, AOL, MSN, Earthlink, and so on.

– Free credit score report emails – most of those are scams, although the three credit score stories DO now enable you a free credit score report, each 12 months, to observe your credit score. Reap the benefits of this supply, and accomplish that!

– You might have gained a free present or lottery – normally an electronic mail or telephone name a few free present or prize – simply present your bank card data for transport prices.

– Some Nigerian prince who’s reaching out to ‘a superb individual’ within the US who will assist him restoration his $10 million from his nation. All he wants is a bit of funding

– E-mail chain letters and pyramid schemes – There are a lot of of those. They’re for probably the most half unlawful and are simply variations on the previous postal chain letters.

– Emails providing a service to “Discover out every little thing on everybody” – normally only a rip-off to get your bank card data

– Job Commercial Scams – there have additionally been scams involving Web Job Web sites. By no means hand out your SSN or beginning date on a resume or software till you’re sure the corporate and place is authentic.

– Charity Scams – we anticipate that customers will get calls from ‘charities’ asking for donations. Don’t present bank card data over the phone. Get the mailing tackle, confirm it, and ship a examine as an alternative.

– CLARK HOWARD, a shopper advocate recommends that you simply use one card for all web transactions, one with a comparatively low restrict. It will restrict the injury if there’s a safety breach. He additionally has a whole lot of good data on his web site.

Issues to do when touring:

– Copy your passport, itinerary, and aircraft tickets and make a copy with you, and one with a trusted relative.

– Cease deliveries to the home to keep away from promoting that you’re gone, or have a buddy decide them (and the mail) up periodically. You can even have the Submit Workplace maintain your mail till you get again.

– In your baggage tags, put your work tackle. This retains anybody who handles your baggage from understanding which home can be vacant for some time.

– Maintain your parking ticket from the airport with you, in a secure place. Whether it is left within the automotive, that is all a thief must exit the parking storage safely.

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– In idle dialog, do not inform folks seemingly harmless particulars, corresponding to the place you retain your parking ticket, how lengthy you’ll be gone, or in case you are touring alone.

– Name your bank cards earlier than hand and inform them you’re touring. Many now have fraud detection insurance policies that may freeze the cardboard if used out of city, and this may be very inconvenient when in Bangkok.

– At all times have a second, and even third, money supply obtainable in case one is stolen or frozen.

– Some thieves have doctored ATMs the place it should seemingly not work, and can preserve your card. They insert a plastic sleeve, and whenever you stroll away pissed off, they arrive up and take the cardboard, having seen you enter your PIN quantity from afar. To keep away from this, run your finger alongside the cardboard slot earlier than you insert your card. The sleeve is inflexible and has a few tiny prongs the thieves use to get it out of the slot, and it is possible for you to to really feel them. Additionally defend the keyboard together with your physique whenever you enter your code.

– One other ATM rip-off entails a touch-sensitive movie, much like those used to guard the keys from injury. This movie data your PIN quantity. Most banks now not use this movie because of this purpose.

– Passports and bank cards are straightforward targets for identification theft. When touring, both preserve these in a lodge secure (not the room secure) or on a cash belt hidden underneath your garments. In crowded areas, all it takes is a razor blade and fast palms to empty your again pocket, purse, or backpack.

– Take into account that 1-800 numbers do NOT work in different nations for probably the most half, and most bank cards is not going to settle for accumulate calls. In case your pockets is stolen whereas touring, ensure to produce other contact numbers for them, or get them off their web site.

– Some accommodations ask for a duplicate of your driver’s license, bank card, or passport on your keep – some even ask to carry the passport. If that is so, first confirm that that is certainly the coverage, with the lodge supervisor. Then request {that a} copy be made as an alternative of the unique, and ask what is finished with the copy later. If that’s nonetheless not ample, request that they be held within the lodge secure. A minimum of then solely cleared personnel can have entry to it (and ensure YOU have a duplicate readily available as nicely)

– Present TSA rules enable unwitnessed searches of checked baggage. To discourage unauthorized folks from looking your baggage, lock them with plastic cable ties. This permits the TSA to open the bags and relock it with their very own ties, and you realize they’re the one ones which have been within the baggage.

Issues to do in case your pockets is stolen:

– File a police report instantly, which reveals the bank card firms you have been diligent.

– Cancel your bank cards instantly. This is the reason it’s so necessary to have the copies of every little thing in your pockets. You have to the toll-free numbers on the backs to name the businesses. In case you are not within the nation, toll-free numbers will not work, so have different contact numbers.

– Name your financial institution and ensure any unauthorized exercise is stopped.

– Name the three Nationwide Credit score Reporting Organizations instantly. This alert signifies that any firm checking your credit score is aware of your data was stolen and so they must contact you by telephone to authorize new credit score. The numbers are:

— Equifax 1-800-525-6285

— Experian 1-888-397-3742

— Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

– Additionally contact the Social Safety Administration to get a brand new card and confirm that nobody has modified your data, corresponding to tackle. 1-800-269-0271

Issues to do periodically:

– Test your credit score stories in any respect three companies. If anybody is acquiring credit score together with your data, annual assessment of those stories ought to catch them.

– Test your Social Safety account periodically. There’s a type you’ll be able to fill out to acquire a abstract of your account with the SSA. This can assist decide if somebody is utilizing your quantity to obtain advantages, or work illegally on this nation.