Let me jump right to it – stealing someone’s identity is fairly easy.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (www.FTC.gov/idtheft ), ID theft strikes nearly 10 million U.S. consumers every year. That’s a bit unnerving.
You guard your credit card with your life, you don’t give out your social security number to just anyone and your passwords are all cryptic and yet – you could still be a victim and not know until it’s too late.
Part of protecting yourself is education. I want to talk to you about five areas of identity theft.
1. Social Security Number Theft – You might be surprised to find out that your child’s SS # is even more at risk than yours. Credit accounts are opened, jobs are obtained, medical insurance is purchased – all with a SS number belonging to a child. Why? Because most likely, you won’t ever check THEIR credit score – you assume they don’t have one. CBS news conducted a segment on this very thing in 2010.
2. Medical Identity Theft – With healthcare insurance premiums at an unbearable high – desperate people are committing desperate acts. Stealing an insurance ID card and having surgeries or other procedures done, is becoming more common. Women are having babies in hospitals and then leaving the medical bills, and sadly the child, behind. All the while, the woman whose identity is stolen can potentially be jailed for leaving “their” child behind and given the burden of having to prove the child is not their own.
3. Criminal Identity Theft – This happens when someone is arrested or violates a law and uses your name and address as their own. This could result in a criminal record, in your name! It could prevent you from getting that job you wanted or worse, you could end up in jail.
4. Financial Identity Theft – Typically, this involves using your personal information to obtain credit cards, loans, bank accounts, etc. You end up buying things, you’ll never see.
5. Driver’s License Theft – This is primary identification used for most of your transactions. Once a driver’s license is obtained the thief can potentially ruin, among many other things, your driving record.
Yes, this is scary, but there are things you can do to help prevent your identity from being stolen.
• Guard your information
• Shred anything that has personal information on it before you throw it away,
• If your wallet is stolen, report everything that was taken, including ID cards, credit cards, banking info.
Restoring your identity can take a tremendous amount of time and a lot of money. The key is that you must be proactive to keep this from happening to you. If you’d like to find out more about how you can protect yourself in the event that your identity is stolen please contact me.
Lisa Moore is with Work Site Connect. She has 9 years in the insurance industry. You can reach Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org