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Identity theft is, unfortunately, a rapidly growing offense around the world.
In 2004, a study was conducted revealing how serious the situation of identity theft is in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission recently found out that nearly 9.1 million individuals are victims of identity theft crimes in the United States alone.
Identity theft, also known as ID theft, is a crime in which a criminal obtains key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver's license numbers, in order to pose as someone else.
The information can be used to obtain credit, merchandise, and services using the victim's name. Identity theft can also provide a thief with false credentials for immigration or other applications.
One of the biggest problems with identity theft is that very often the crimes committed by the identity theft expert are often attributed to the victim.
You can prevent identity theft from happening to you. To help prevent this kind of crime, here are some important ideas and safety tips about identity theft:
- Do NOT forget the receipt or pay slip at the gas pump or ATM station. They often contain valuable information for thieves.
- Bank account receipts and bills should always be shredded before throwing out. Identity thieves can gather your personal and financial information off of just a few bits and pieces of data on papers.
- Do not leave bank documents or personal information out for anyone to see. Most suspects know the routines and lifestyles of their victims making them easier targets.
- Request a copy of your credit report and bank statements on a regular basis.
- Never write your social security number on a check. If the check gets into the wrong hands you want the thief to have as little information on you as possible. Also, do NOT carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Do NOT have your banking information, such as a bank account number, printed on anything (ex. Driver's license).
- Delete spam emails. These include credit card offers and fraudulent websites. This is usually a scam for the thief to obtain vital information from you. You should stop all credit card offers from the Internet and email. It is also helpful to have a firewall or anti-spyware software.
- Your bank account password should be private. Do NOT carry your PIN number in your wallet or write it on your debit card.
- Do NOT give any personal or financial information over the phone.
If you or someone you know feels that you may be a current victim of identity theft, it is appropriate to report it.
Taking extra care to protect yourself from identity theft is the best thing you can do. It is much easier to prevent identity theft than to repair the damage it causes.
Source: American Heritage Bank
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