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Identity-Theft is the fastest growing crime in America; 9. 9 MILLION victims were reported last year, according to a Federal Trade Commission survey!
What is Identity Theft or Identity Fraud? Identity theft or identity fraud (true name fraud) is the criminal act of taking a victim's identity for the purpose of obtaining credit, credit cards from banks and/or retailers, stealing money from the victim's existing accounts, applying for loans in the victim's name, establishing accounts with utility companies, leasing automobiles and residences, filing bankruptcy, and/or even obtaining employment.
THE IDENTITY THIEF IS LOOKING FOR YOU!
How Does Identity Theft Occur? n All that is needed is a little information, such as your social security number, birth date, address, phone number, or any other information which can be discovered.
Protect Your Identity A good security plan has two parts: one focused on security rules to prevent identity theft and another focused on all the things you need to do when you discover a theft. The plan doesn't need to be longer than a page or two.
Plan one: Precautions You should establish security precautions for yourself and your family, in the home and elsewhere.
Plan one: Precautions n n Protect your household: Create security rules for your house. Include a plan for how mail should be handled, who shreds credit card offers, what happens when everyone goes on vacation, and where friends and neighbors cannot go in the house. Protect yourself: Have everyone check their credit reports regularly. I recommend at least every three months. Learn how to read your report and understand what it tells you.
Plan one: Precautions n n Secure the house: Burglars increasingly focus on identity theft for bigger payoffs. Make sure to keep yourself and your documents safe. Consider a burglar alarm, security lights, window and door locks, data safes, locked filing cabinets, and which floorboard you want to hide your tax returns under. Protect your PC: Use security technology. Firewalls keep hackers out. Antivirus software keeps viruses and worms out. Encryption protects sensitive data. Web filters keep your family members (especially the young ones) away from websites they probably shouldn't see.
Plan two: Know who to call n If you realize someone stole your identity, you'll probably panic. Most people do. Don't waste a lot of valuable time trying to gather the information you need to minimize the impact of the crime. Before you become a victim, make a checklist of the following.
Plan two: Know who to call All your accounts and account contacts n The credit and legal agencies you need to contact if something happens n The forms you'll need to fill out if you become a victim n
How Identity Thieves Operate n Some scammers buy fake birth certificates and IDs while others hack into databases. In March 2001, the FBI reported that 40 corporations in 20 states were targeted by hackers operating outside the United States. Activities compromised the security of more than 1 million credit card numbers stored by the hacked corporations. Most of the hacking activity originated in Eastern Europe, China, and the former Soviet republics.
How Identity Thieves Operate n But the latest trend in identity theft is "skimming. " Take a restaurant as an example. A waiter swipes your credit card two times: once for the meal, and once to copy all the data off the magnetic strip into a small device.
How Identity Thieves Operate n The criminal who supplied the waiter with the skimming device then downloads the swiped card's information into his or her computer, puts the information on counterfeit cards, and uses those cards to buy goods and services using your account.
How Identity Thieves Operate n Even more computer-savvy crooks are loading merchants' credit card machines with "skimmer bugs" that program the machine to transmit card information to a remote location.