Identity Theft is an invisible crime -- it's hard to put a stop to it. In 2001, 750,000 people were victims of identity theft -- one out of every 50 is affected by this crime every year and, of them, one out of five are victimized by someone they know.
There are steps you can take to keep yourself safer:
1.) Be careful when letting people in your house. Technicians, service people, roomates, employees -- anyone. Your identity can be stolen in numerous ways.
2.) When you're online, be careful about giving out your information. Be wary of spam emails and sweepstakes contests.
3.) Watch out for people posing as a telemarketer or taking surveys, selling magazine subscriptions, collecting donations, or offering products.
4.) When you're at an ATM, be on guard for people who are "Shoulder Surfing," or standing close enough to you so that they can read your identification number.
5.) Instead of throwing your private papers away, shred them to make them unreadable.
6.) Never carry your social security card with you.
7.) Keep track of your expenses, so you can spot unauthorized ones quickly.
8.) Do not write your account number on postcards or anything else that can be easily read by a stranger.
9.) Be careful giving out your social security number. Most people don't know that you don't have to give out your social security number if you don't want to. If you do decide to share it, you should ask the recipient why they need it and if it will be shared with others.
10.) If you do become a victim of identity theft, contact your credit card companies and banks, cancel your cards, call the companies for the utility bills and contact the fraud department at the three the major credit bureaus -- Equifax
, and TransUnion
-- as soon as you can. It can take a lot of time to repair your credit, so it is best to start immediately.