Identity Theft Facts: What You Need to Know

It’s easy to dismiss the idea of identity theft if you’ve never had the misfortune of being a victim, but the fact of the matter is identity theft can happen to anyone. Maybe it’s a bit uncomfortable to think about, but the sooner you realize that identity theft is an equal opportunity nightmare, the sooner you can take preventative measures to safeguarding not only yourself, but the people within your household and place of business.

The Basics
Identity theft happens when a thief has access to your personal information, including social security numbers, date of birth, and financial materials. The thief can open credit accounts or use your bankcards to make expensive purchases. Unfortunately, rectifying the circumstances can be a long, drawn-out process for the victim, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The Facts
• According to the FTC, up to 10 million Americans fall victim to incidents of identity theft with 12 percent of victims being issued arrest warrants for financial crimes committed using their identity.

• The U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Forces arrested 1,200 criminals who were responsible for the loss of almost $500 million.

• According to Avivah Litan of the Gartner Group, fewer than one in 700 identity crimes lead to an arrest, making online fraud one of the easiest crimes to get away with.

• New account fraud is difficult to detect unless you are obsessed with looking at your credit report.

• It’s not easy to erase from your history. It can easily take a couple of weeks or up to several years to get your finances back to the order they were before you ever became a victim.

• Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, according to the FTC.

Identity theft is scary to think about, but there are measures you can take to mitigate your risks.

Guard your info online.
Clear logins, change passwords frequently, pay for online purchases with credit, not debit cards, and know the difference between actual email solicitations and phishing scams.

Monitor your bank activity.
Always check your accounts for purchases or deductions that seem fishy or unfamiliar.

Monitor your credit report.
You’re allowed a free credit report from each of the three bureaus,

Regularly shred sensitive documents.
Hiring a professional shredding company like Legal Shred can help you safely and properly dispose of documents that contain sensitive information, like bank records, personnel files, payroll records, and even junk mail with credit offers.

Don’t forget to shred or destroy hard drives, SD cards, mobile phones, SIM cards and thumb drives, all of which can contain sensitive information that isn’t stored on paper. While reformatting and reinstalling an operating system will get rid of most of the data, it’s just better to kill the drive with professional shredding.

Document destruction is an integral part to protecting your identity and the identities of those who have entrusted you with their data.

Protect your identity with secure mobile shredding by NAID AAA-certified professionals like Legal Shred. We offer secure shredding for residential and commercial customers at affordable rates. Contact us for a quote today.

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