Identity Thefts – Beware

Scanned image of author's US Social Security card.
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More than 11,000,000 people have fallen victim to identity theft last year, according to an annual report by Javelin Strategy & Research.

 The average victim of identity theft in 2009 lost $4,840 and spent 21 hour coping with the aftermath according to the study.

 The motives of identity thieves are usually the same:  to steal your personal and/or financial information and use it to drain accounts, open credit cards and engage in other financial mayhem in your name.

 How can you avoid this type of identity theft?  Don’t respond to any request to verify your account number or password.  Legitimate companies or government agencies will typically request information by letter, not an e-mail or cell phone or text.

 In a tight-fisted job market, scammers prey on people’s urgency to find work.  “They’re taking chances with (job) ads they never would have responded to before or giving out personal information in homes someone will hire (them).”  Phony online ads ask that a resume include a Social Security Number or are asked to bring personal documents to a location that’s not a real office but an empty storefront.  “If you can’t see a person face to face or cannot check out the company by doing basic homework, be wary.” 

Limit personal information on your resume.  Include your e-mail address and telephone number, it is not necessary to add your home address and NEVER put your Social Security Number on your resume.

 Also, be careful in giving out your child’s Social Security number for school, sports or extracurricular activities.  If requested, ask “Why do you need it?  If I don’t provide it, is there an alternative form of ID?”

Finally, shred and destroy all financial paperwork.   Don’t make it easy for thieves to access your personal information and account numbers.


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