Identity Theft Prevention - Tips on Avoiding Disaster

Identity theft is a malicious crime with serious implications. It can wreck havoc on your credit file, your ability to purchase a home in the future and interfere with potential job opportunities.

Approximately 246,000 cases of identity theft were filed between January, 2004 and December, 2004 – a staggering increase of 52% since 2002. Statistics of victimization by age group revealed that anyone from 18 to 65 is fair game. The breakdown by fraud subject were as follows:

  • Credit card fraud – 28%
  • Phone and utilities – 19%
  • Bank fraud – 18%
  • Employment – 13%
  • Other (government documents, benefits, insurance, bankruptcy, etc) – 22%

    So what is “Identity Theft”? Identity theft happens when, someone steals your personal information and commits fraud in your name. Examples include situations where your your name, social security number, home address and/or date of birth is used to open fraudulent credit card, telephone and utility accounts.

    Perpetrators of identity theft should not be underestimated – some are clever and make a good living doing what they do. They have perfected ways to find your personal information and bleed you dry. Here are a few of their information pilfering methods:

  • Obtaining your information while on the job or bribing someone who works in a certain organization to steal your information.
  • Rummaging through your trash.
  • Stealing your mail (including any bank and credit card statements, checks, tax information, etc.)
  • “Skimming” your information by attaching devices to an ATM and stealing your information once you swipe your card and enter your PIN number.
  • Hacking information databases.
  • Stealing your wallet or purse.
  • “Phishing” for information through phone calls or email under the guise of correcting errorneous information about your account.

    Once they have acquired your information, they will use it in these ways to harm your personal finances: