Ways to Guard Against ID Theft

At 9 Year Mortgage we understand that when most people think of identity theft, they most commonly think of a wealthy person who has had massive amounts of money stolen from them.  While this does happen, most of the time the average American is the one who is most at risk of having their identity stolen.  Every 3 seconds someones identity is stolen, making 1 in 6 Americans victims of identity theft each year.  We are an easier target than you might think.

Identity thieves can steal your credit card number in a plethora of ways. But once they get your number, they usually don’t max out your card as fast as they can.  Instead, they make small purchases at the stores you usually shop at in hopes that those purchases will go unnoticed by you for a longer period of time.  This allows them to test out the waters and make sure you are not keeping an active watch of your account.

This is why 9 Year Mortgage suggests that you  keep an active track of what you spend and where you spend it.  Each month try to set time aside to balance your checkbook and make sure that all your receipts match with what your bank statement is telling you.  If there are any suspicious transactions (even if it is as little as $5), contact your bank immediately.

Be extra cautious if you notice your checks are missing.  Checks are one of the best things a thief can get their hands on, because a check cannot be stopped or traced after it is written.  With a credit card though, the moment you call in to say that your wallet has been lost or stolen they will put a block on your account, denying the thief any further access to your money.

9 Year Mortgage suggests that one of the many ways to prevent identity theft is to shred all of your documents that have any personal information in them.  Even junk mail has your address on it, so shred it! Make sure that you put your outgoing mail (such as bills) into the post office directly so that a thief cannot snatch your information right from under your nose!

Identity theft insurance sounds like a pretty good thing to have in this day and age right?  Well, as good as it sounds, make sure to read the fine print before you sign anything.  Most identity theft insurance will only cover the cost to repair your identity for about $50 a year. This insurance will not reimburse you for your lost funds, but will usually include the cost of the phone bills, hiring an attorney, mailing of documents, etc.   So ask yourself if you really need this before buying it.

Below is a list of some ways identity thief’s can get your information.  Read over the list and evaluate if you might need to change some things you do so that you can better protect yourself.

9 Year Mortgage Shares Ways Thief’s Get Your Info

1. Dumpster diving
2. Phishing and Pretexting- Pretend to be a legitimate company, or your insurance company to get your information
3. Look over shoulder at stores to get your pin number
4. Social Network Websites
5. Bogus Job Offers- Thieves will place fake employment ads and get you to fill out an application, including your social security number.  This is a dangerous one for us in today’s economy because many of us are so desperate for a job that we are more willingly to hand out personal information.
6. Fake sweepstakes or lotteries- watch out for those giveaways that have you fill out a entry form, because most likely they are just there to get your personal information.
7. Hacking Accounts
8. Stealing mail
9. Lost or stolen personal items

Be prepared to beat the thieves at their own game.  Below is a list of tips that will help you to better protect you and your loved ones.

9 Year Mortgage Suggests How to Protect Yourself

1. Regularly monitor your bank, credit card, and loan statements.
2. Watch out for people who are lurking nearby when you are using an ATM. These thieves are masters at memorizing numbers quickly.
3. Delete any personal information and passwords that you have entered on a shared computer.
4. Keep your Social Security number, passwords, and PINs safe. Never carry them in your wallet.
5. Never provide personal information through unexpected telephone calls, e-mails, or social networking websites.
6. Don’t make it easy for thieves to crack your passwords.
7. Shredder-Dumpster diving is the #1 way criminals get your information.
8. Spyware or anti spy software.
9. Make sure to keep duplicate records of everything, just in case.
10. Never put your full date of birth, address, or phone number on any sites, including Facebook.  You would be surprised what a thief could do with such menial information.

These lists include  examples of how we become victims as well as how we can protect ourselves.  Try to figure out what you can do to prevent identity theft in your life by reviewing the lists above.  Frank Abagnale, the master identity thief portrayed in the movie Catch Me if You Can said, “In my career, I don’t know of any crime that’s easier — and easy to get away with than identity theft,”  From what we’ve seen above, it is evident that thief’s get your information in simple ways.  In the end, just pay extra attention to your finances and who’s around you when you are spending to protect your financial life.

9 Year Mortgage enjoys the commercials that Citibank ran  in 2006 on Identity theft.  To view, click here.

To read another article by 9 Year Mortgage that can help you in your financial life, click here.

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