I was reading up a bit on identity theft this afternoon and while I couldn’t get a firm number on the actual number of people victimized each year (found results ranging from 250,000-12 million victims for 2011), I do believe it to be an alarming number. Think about it, don’t you know somebody who has been a victim of identity theft? You at least know somebody who knows somebody.
And if the statistics I read on www.identity-theft.laws.com today are correct, victims can expect to lose between $2,000 – $14,000, will spend an additional $900 to $1,400 on items related to the crime, will spend approximately 300 hours fixing the damage done to their credit, and 72% of the victims will have a hard time getting the negative information removed from their personal credit report.
And if that isn’t sobering enough, the website www.identitytheftassistance.org reports “friendly fraud” is on the rise. This is when your identity is stolen from someone you know, a family member, a friend or roommate.
Do yourself and your family a favor and put a few security measures in place to protect yourself from identity theft. Here are a few ideas…
Shredding – Shredding is one of the easiest things you can do to help reduce / prevent identity theft.
Items to Shred: (I’m not suggesting you shred these items, but it you have decided to trash them, they NEED to be shredded.)
- Credit Card Information
- Monthly Bills
- Financial Statements
- Medical Forms
- Workplace Documents
When in doubt – shred!
- Don’t shop online if you are on a public wifi
- Make sure you have a strong password
- Change your passwords regularly
- Don’t have the same password for different companies
- Make sure you have security software and update regularly
Most companies do NOT request sensitive information via email, so be suspicious of any email you receive that is requesting you to send them your vital information.
Make a copy (front and back) of all credit cards and documents in your wallet. Should your wallet be stolen you will have a complete list of all cards lost as well as the 1-800 number to call.
Reduce the amount of credit cards and personal information you carry with you. This will reduce your losses should you have your wallet stolen.
Check your Credit Score at Least once a Year
Go to all 3 Credit agencies and check your credit score.
You can get 3 free reports a year.