2007 was quite a "fruitful" year in what regards identity theft.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that almost 10 million
Americans fell victims to fraudsters. It seems that the main trouble
was not as expected the actual financial loss the victims suffered but
rather clearing their name after such a scam.
The whole process following an identity theft can be a pretty knotty
and time consuming one. It involves notifying people, informing
creditors, credit bureaus and authorities.
Here are some tips from Mark LaPenta, chief operating officer of
MetLife Bank in order to keep yourself away from such identity theft:
- Be cautious when handling your Social Security number and
remember that your wallet is not a safe place to keep it. Also printing
the number on personal checks is a very bad idea.
- Never put out your Social Security number unless required
by a government agency, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or
- If your Social Security number is required in other
circumstances as with a transaction or when you buy something online,
you should always make sure that you have been filled in with all the
explanation and the details concerning this requirement and the safety
measures behind the confidentiality promise.
- Keep the number of your credit cards to the minimum and
never have on you more than one or two. It is very recommendable to
make out a list with all your credit cards, bank accounts and funds and
put it somewhere safe.
- Make sure that you always keep envelopes with bills and
checks out of sight and reach.
- Double the safety measures on your computer –
make an effort and use complex passwords and PINs – the best
would be to make combinations of letters and numbers.
- Watch out for "phishing" schemes. These scams are conducted
through malicious e-mails or pop-ups that trick you into giving out
personal credentials. Be suspicious of any e-mail requesting personal
data, and do not access links in e-mails from unknown sources.
- Keep in mind that identity thieves are interested in your
trash as it could provide them with crucial information, so destroy all
paperwork from your trash containing such information best by using
"crosscut" shredders which prevent documents from being put back
- Make a habit from checking on your financial statements
monthly and as soon you discover some irregularity, inform your
- Annually verify your credit records. To secure this
information and get one free credit just go to
www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228 and you will contact
one of the three major credit bureaus available.
If you fall victim to such an identity scam, do not waste time and
resort to professional assistance to help you deal with it and overcome
the whole process of regaining your name.