It’s estimated that there were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008, and 1 in every 10 U.S. consumers have reported having their identity stolen. The U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2005 that 1.6 million households experienced fraud not related to credit cards (i.e. their bank accounts or debit cards were compromised).
And, the U.S. DOJ also reported that those households with incomes higher than $70,000 were twice as likely to experience identity theft than those with salaries under $50,000.
According to the United States Department of Justice, identity theft and identity fraud “are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”
Such personal information may include your name, address, driver’s license number, Social Security number, date of birth, credit card number or banking information.
Victims of identity theft can spend months trying to restore their good name. And most victims do not realize it has happened until they get denied for a mortgage or a credit card.
Criminals sift through trash looking for the following:
Never provide personal information, including your Social Security number, passwords or account numbers over the phone or internet if you did not initiate the call. If you are asked for any type of personal information, before giving any information, ask the caller for their name, telephone number and the organization that they are representing.
You should then call the company using the customer service number the company provides with your account statement. Do NOT call the number you were given by the caller. To reduce the number of solicitations you receive, you can sign up at the do not call registry, call: (888) 382-1222
Avoid “Skimming and shoulder surfing” (Never let your credit card out of your sight). Pay with cash. Try never to let your credit card out of your sight to avoid a fraud scheme known as “skimming”.
According to Wikipedia:
“Skimming is the theft of credit card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction. It is typically an “inside job” by a dishonest employee of a legitimate merchant. The thief can procure a victim’s credit card number using basic methods such as photocopying receipts or more advanced methods such as using a small electronic device (skimmer) to swipe and store hundreds of victims’ credit card numbers.”
Be aware of people “shoulder surfing”. This is when they are looking over your shoulder or standing too close trying to obtain your PIN number when making purchases with your debit card. They may also be listening for your credit card number.
Always mail your outgoing bill payments and checks from the post office or a neighborhood blue postal box and never from home. Pick up your incoming mail as soon as it is delivered. The longer it sits the better chance a criminal has of stealing it.
Contact your creditors if a bill doesn’t arrive when expected or includes charges you don’t recognize. It may indicate that it was stolen.
Review account statements to make sure you recognize the purchases listed before paying the bill. If your credit card holder offers electronic account access, take advantage and periodically review the activity that is posted to your account. The quicker you spot any unauthorized activity, the sooner you can notify the creditor.
Review your credit report at least once a year to look for suspicious activity. If you do spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately.
Never click on a link provided in an email if you believe it to be fraudulent. Keep in mind, no financial institution will ask you to verify your information via email. Criminals may link you to phony “official-looking” web site to confirm your personal information. This is known as “phishing”.
According to Wikipedia:
“Phishing” is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
Opt out of credit card solicitations. (Take your name off marketers’ hit lists) You can opt out of credit card solicitations by calling 1-888-567-8688 to have your name removed from direct marketing lists. You can do this online at OptOutPrescreen.com, which is the official consumer credit reporting industry opt-out website for the three credit companies:
Protect your Social Security number. Never carry your Social Security card or anything else with your social security number on it in your wallet or purse, along with your driver’s license. Do not put your Social Security number or driver’s license number on any checks you may write. Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
If you have any questions about this or if you have any questions you’d like us to answer on our podcast, you can email your questions to email@example.com or give us a call at (602) 535-2171. Be sure to ask us for a free quote on your next mortgage. We’ll personally work with you and help you through the whole process.
Thanks for listening and reading the Mortgage Brothers Show. Let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to answer on this podcast. You can email your questions to Tom@AZMortgageBrothers.com or Eddie@AZMortgageBrothers.com.
Be sure to ask us for a free quote on your next mortgage. We’ll personally work with you and help you through the whole process.
Signature Home Loans LLC does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Signature Home Loans NMLS 1007154, NMLS #210917 and 1618695. Equal housing lender.BACK TO LIST