Monday, February 27, 2006

Tips Offered On How to Prevent Identity Theft

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Identity theft is a growing trend in the United States. It is a crime that can net the thief a tidy sum of money and runs a low risk of being caught. But to commit identity theft, the perpetrator has to have information, such as a social security number and driver’s license number.

So, how do the criminals get your personal information? According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, they get the information in several ways:
  • by going through the trash to find straight cut or unshredded papers,

  • by stealing an individual’s mail or wallet, by listening to public conversations,

  • by tricking the victim into revealing the information over the phone or by e-mail,

  • by buying the information on the internet or from someone who has already stolen it,

  • by stealing loan or credit applications that an individual has filled out, from personal computers, or

  • from friends or relatives who work with the victim and has easy access to the information.
Businesses and consumers are facing identity theft every day. Many credit card companies warn their customers that their company will never ask for personal information by phone or e-mail and that any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the proper authorities. Paypal, a subsidiary of E-Bay, warns consumers, on their customer service phone line, that they do not request personal information by phone or e-mail.

After thieves have a person’s personal information, they use it in several different ways. According to, they change the mailing address on credit card accounts to prevent the victim from realizing something is wrong for a while. During that time the criminal is running up large bills.

They open new credit card accounts using the victim’s social security number, date of birth and name. They establish phone or cellular phone service in the victim’s name. They open checking accounts in the victim’s name and write bad checks. They file for bankruptcy to avoid paying debts that they have incurred un-der the victim’s name or to avoid eviction. They drain the victim’s bank accounts. They even take out auto loans in the victims name.

In order to prevent identity theft, the Identity Theft Resource Center offers these tips:
  • Check your credit reports with all three major credit agencies at least once per year.

  • Guard your social security number and when possible don’t carry your social security card with you.

  • Don’t put your social security number or driver’s license number on your checks.

  • Never give your personal information to anyone unless they have a good reason for needing it.

  • Watch out for people trying to eavesdrop on your conversations.

  • Carefully destroy papers that you throw out, especially those with sensitive information.

  • Be suspicious of telephone solicitors.

  • Delete suspicious e-mails without replying to them.

  • Use a locked mailbox to send or receive mail.

  • Reduce the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive by calling 888-5OPT-OUT.
Identity theft is a growing problem. It hurts the victim and the companies involved. Report any suspicious activity immediately.

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Behavior Management Expert and Maximizing Your Potential Mentor™ Etienne A. Gibbs is a life-observing author, engaging talk show host, humorous speaker, and successful trainer who teaches small business owners, managers, and employees how to speak, think, and perform in ways that will help them shine. In the end, they maximize their critical thinking, speaking, and management skills.

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