Halt! Who Goes There? – Stopping Identity Thieves in Their Tracks
Gina M. Barry, Esq.
Identity theft occurs when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. Many people have fallen victim to identity thieves, and the number of victims is growing as thieves become savvier with experience.
Identity thieves steal wallets and purses containing identification, credit and bank cards. They steal your mail, targeting bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, telephone calling cards and tax information. They may even complete a “change of address” form to divert your mail to another location. They may access your records, find personal information that you share on the Internet or obtain your personal information from applications. They also often rummage through trash for personal data in a practice known as “dumpster diving.” Some, posing landlords or employers, even obtain credit reports.
Once your information is obtained, the thief will normally call your credit card issuer and change the mailing address on your account. The thief then charges on your account, and since the bills are being sent to the new address, you are none the wiser. Identity thieves may open a new credit card account or take out loan in your name. When no payments are made, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Identity thieves may establish telephone or cell phone service in your name or open a bank account in your name and write bad checks.
Preventing identity theft requires vigilance and diligence. Before revealing any personal information, determine how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact, and even then, be very cautious. The legitimate organizations with which you do business have your information and will not ask you for it. Be aware that identity thieves often pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers or government agencies to get you to reveal personal information.
Guard your mail…
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by: Gina M. Barry, Esq.