Updated: Aug 9
Some Facts About Identity Theft:
According to FBI Internet Crime Report, identity theft victims lost $160,305,789 in 2019.
Only 3 in 5 Americans have checked their credit report.
2 in 3 Americans who have checked their credit scores have had to take action to correct inaccuracies.
13 was the average number of corrections to their credit reports for those who noticed inaccuracies.
60 percent of Americans report that they or an immediate family member have ever been the victim of a scheme to defraud them. This includes letters, emails or phone calls impersonating the IRS, theft of an existing credit card number, new lines of credit opened in their name, or tax return fraud.
62 percent of parents of minors don’t know children are at risk. In 2018, nearly 1 in 4 children had experienced identity theft. It affected over 13 million.
How You Can Help Protect Yourself
There’s no surefire way to protect yourself from identity theft. But there are many steps you can take to reduce the chances of someone stealing your identity. The first part of this article explains the best practices for protecting your identity. The second part includes steps you can take if you find yourself a victim of identity theft.
Never give out or write down your social security number.
Make sure your social security number is not on your checks or IDs.
If asked, always request to provide a different form of identification.
Carry only the cards you need in your wallet.
This includes medical cards that may have your sensitive information. Leave extra credit cards and your Social Security card locked up safely at home.
When in doubt, opt-out.
Read privacy notices from your financial institutions. Then, follow the instructions to opt-out of sharing your information. Stop unsolicited credit card offers by calling 888-5OPT-OUT or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.
Keep your purse locked up at work.
Workplace theft is more rampant than most people realize. Ask your employer for a safe place to lock your purse or wallet if they don’t already provide one.
Ask your employer about security procedures for personnel files.
Make sure your employer locks up files and that there is a policy in place to prevent theft. Many cases of identity theft started at work because coworkers stole personal data.
Do not log onto personal financial accounts from work.
In addition, do not set work computers to remember personal passwords automatically. Finally, do not store personal information in your desk or on work computers.
Use a locked mailbox, if possible, to receive mail.
Thieves can pluck bills or other mail from your mailbox and use that information to commit fraud. Send any sensitive mail from the Post Office or using an official USPS mailbox.
Never have new checks sent to your home.
You should only receive checks if your mailbox is secure. If not, ask your bank to hold them for you at your local branch and pick them up instead.
Buy an inexpensive shredder.
Shred any mail or documents with sensitive information before you throw it away.
Keep track of when your credit card bills normally arrive.
If one is missing, contact your lender immediately. Don’t just assume you get to skip a month’s payment or that your creditor forgot to mail it!
Keep personal information in a locked room or filing cabinet at home.
If one is missing, contact your lender immediately. This is especially important if you have frequent visitors, a housekeeper, or others who may be in your home.
Check your credit report at least once a year.
Consider a credit monitoring service if you want to keep close tabs on your credit report. Early detection of fraud can save hours of time and hassle later.
When you receive a benefits statement from the SSA, check it carefully for errors or possible fraud.
If you see signs of either, call the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.