Identity theft is real (and scary!) but you can protect yourself from the nightmare. Here’s how.
Everyday individuals become a victim of identity theft. The scary reality is that victims of identity theft suffer from total financial chaos, as their credit history and rating are destroyed by illicit purchases that were never paid for by the identity thief. Many victims even have to face the horror of a criminal investigation, as the identity thief may use your identity for other illegal activities.
There are real life examples of identity theft happening every day; a credit card company help desk employee stole the information of countless victims, selling the information to thieves, who went on to open accounts in the victims’ names. An IRS employee who was hired to help victims of identity theft was the one doing the stealing; using IRS privileges, this employee managed to steal the information of victims, gaining about $400,000 for herself illegally.
There are several common ways that thieves can get at your information. The more aware you are, the more you are able to prevent it from happening to you.
If you think you’re safe simply because you or your business hasn’t been compromised, think again. According to a study from Javelin Strategy & Research, identity theft statistics show that the number of victims increased 16% to reach 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016 – the highest number since Javelin began tracking fraud in 2003.
How can you protect yourself from being a scary statistic? Here are some helpful tips.
DON’T CARRY MORE THAN YOU NEED
Leave extra credit cards, Medicare cards, social security cards, and any financial statements at home in a secure place, unless you’re going somewhere that requires them.
KNOW THE COMMON SCAMS
Each year, the IRS creates a “Dirty Dozen” list of current identity theft scams. Two of the main culprits include phone scams and phishing.
WATCH YOUR CREDIT
You should regularly check your credit score and activity online, by phone, or in-person through your financial institution. If a business ever asks you for your social security number, ask why they need it and how they will protect it.
SHRED OLD DOCUMENTS
Unless you need it, shred any paper that contains sensitive information like your social security number or PINs—bank statements, credit card statements, and canceled checks, for instance. Don’t forget to shred expired credit cards and driver’s licenses, too.
Legal Shred can help you protect your identity through our routine document destruction services. As the identity protection company, it is our mission to keep our customers secure and safe. We can destroy any document, whether it’s old passports, licenses, financial documents, medical records, and any other document that contains sensitive information, ensuring that it can never be read or used again.
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- Identity Theft Statistics – ID Theft Hits All-time High in 2016
- Identity Protection Quiz: How Safe Do You Think You Are?
- The Legal Shred Identity Theft Survival Guide