Safeguarding Your Personal Information From Identity Thieves

Safeguarding Your Personal Information From Identity Thieves

An identity thief doesn't just steal your credit card and personal information to​ start buying crazily in​ your name. He gets new cards, opens new loans, and leaves a​ long trail of​ unpaid bills in​ your name. He even uses your identity to​ commit acts of​ terrorism or​ other crimes. What are you to​ do?

Identity theft occurs more frequently than you would like to​ believe - and is​ committed frequently by someone you know. This is​ what happened to​ Linda Foley, a​ magazine writer, who learned that her own employer had swiped her identity to​ open cell phone and credit card accounts. Now Foley, along with her husband, fight back as​ the Co-Executive Directors of​ the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in​ San Diego, California.

Can This Happen to​ You?

After Bridget J. Thomas learned that her identity was stolen by a​ bank employee at​ a​ branch 300 miles from the one she used, she was shocked. And that was just the beginning of​ her nightmare! When the thief was caught, she was working at​ a​ different bank in​ a​ different state. After her arrest, collection agencies continued to​ hound Ms Thomas.

Setting the Record Straight Might Not Be All That Easy - or​ Quick!

Setting the record straight is​ the tip of​ a​ nightmarish iceberg that can take months - even years to​ accomplish – often with undue pain and suffering for the victim. in​ serious cases victims spend an​ average of​ 600 hours and $1,400 in​ out-of-pocket expenses to​ repair their credit. Until they can prove their innocence, they are more likely to​ be:

• charged higher rates for insurance and fees for credit cards,

• rejected for student loans or​ home mortgages,

• arrested for crimes they did not commit,

• unable to​ get or​ keep a​ job.

A Call From a​ Collection Agency or​ a​ turndown For a​ Loan is​ Often the Only Tip-off That Your Identity Was Stolen.

A thief needs only one thing to​ open the doors to​ his windfall - your Social Security number. Unfortunately it​ is​ routinely used by government agencies, health care providers, utility companies, merchants, employers, and financial institutions. Often, your Social Security number is​ publicly available. That's how General John M. Shalikashvili, the former Chairman of​ the Joint Chiefs of​ Staff, became a​ victim. His Social Security number and those of​ many other military officers were published in​ the "Congressional Record" and were later posted on the internet. Thieves used their identities to​ open 273 new credit cards accounts and run up a​ bill of​ over $200,000.00 in​ charges.

Develop a​ Form of​ Defense

To stop identity thieves in​ their steps, there are several things you can do. You can begin by freezing access to​ your credit file. By doing so, you cause your file to​ become off-limits to​ anyone who does not know the secret PIN (Personal Information Number) of​ your choosing. This sets the wheels in​ motion to​ protect you from the bad guys - anyone who attempts to​ apply for credit in​ your name. it​ causes their application to​ be rejected; although your credit cards won't be affected. And if​ you want to​ apply for new credit or​ let a​ bank, store, or​ agency run a​ background check on you, you can get a​ credit thaw. For example, if​ you decided to​ shop for a​ big-ticket item, like a​ car, you might thaw your history for auto dealers.

Other Things You Can Do - Starting NOW!

• Periodically check your credit report for suspicious activities. Americans are now entitled to​ a​ free annual credit report from each of​ the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

• if​ you elect to​ shop online, use a​ credit card rather than a​ debit card. With a​ credit card, you have the extra protection of​ maximum liability of​ $50.00 for unauthorized purchased.

• Learn more about "phishing" email scams, and other schemes, frauds, and cons to​ separate you from your identity and your money.

In the Event You Do Become a​ Victim

Here are some steps to​ take:

• Act fast and prepare yourself for an​ uphill battle uncooperative and unsupportive credit card and law enforcement agencies. For guidance and support, I suggest that you turn to​ organizations and agencies like ITRC, the Federal Trade Commission, and others.

• Call the fraud dept. of​ one of​ the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and request that a​ fraud alert be placed on your credit reports. (The other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified.) The alert lasts for 90 days and requires creditors to​ call you before opening new accounts in​ your name; however, a​ word of​ caution is​ in​ order here. There are no legal requirements to​ honor alerts and merchants who are eager to​ make a​ sale may ignore them.

• Close your credit card accounts and change the passwords on all your financial and banking accounts.

• File a​ police report. Although credit bureaus won’t extend a​ fraud alert without it, be aware that local police departments may be reluctant to​ provide a​ report. Many may lack the resources to​ properly investigate the crime.

• Mail copies of​ the police report to​ all three credit bureaus with a​ cover letter demanding your complete credit file.

• Call every credit where you know a​ bogus account has been created and have them close your file immediately. Demand copies of​ all fraudulent applications for credit and billing statements. Creditors don’t want to​ divulge that information, but they will if​ you enclose a​ copy of​ a​ police report and forward your request it​ in​ writing via certified mail.

Conclusion: Face it, identity theft is​ a​ growing problem affecting everyone in​ some way or​ another. With the increase popularity of​ internet usage, it​ has become easier for cybercriminals to​ steal our identity. in​ 2018 alone, the victim total due to​ identity theft climbed to​ 10 million, a​ new high. The cost to​ the economy was up an​ astonishing 41 percent to​ $52.6 billion, according to​ The Identity Theft Survey Report, available from the Federal Trade Commission at​ the website ( Each year these totals are climbing with no apparent sign of​ slowing down.

What are your chances of​ becoming a​ victim of​ some form of​ identity theft? According to​ the Federal Trade Commission is​ one in​ ten.

“So what am I to​ do?” you ask. My recommendation is​ that first you educate yourself with information and resources at​ your disposal. Next, purchase identity theft insurance.

Safeguarding Your Personal Information From Identity Thieves

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