Did you know that identity theft is the number one crime in America and it is estimated to increase over 1000%? Identity theft is exactly what it sounds like. Someone literally steals your identity for personal gain. Usually what happens is that a person obtains information such as your social security number and/or driver license number to commit various forms of fraud. The thief may apply for loans or credit cards, rent apartments, lease cars, obtain services, and much more. The victim, unfortunately, is then left with a ruined credit history or having the complicated task of regaining financial health or trying to restore their reputation in the community.
Here are some helpful hints on how to protect yourself from being a victim:
Check your credit reports once a year.
Guard your Social Security number. When possible, don’t carry your Social Security card with you. Don’t put your SSN or drivers license number on your checks.
Guard your personal information. You should never give your Social Security number to anyone unless they have a good reason for needing it. Watch for people who may try to eavesdrop and overhear the information you give out orally.
Carefully destroy papers you throw out, especially those with sensitive or identifying information.
Be suspicious of telephone solicitors. Never provide information unless you have initiated the call.
Use a locked mailbox to send and receive all mail.
Reduce the number of preapproved credit card offers you receive (they will ask for your SSN).