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Safeguard Your Personal Information to Assist in Preventing Identity Theft

cyber securityIdentity theft continues to run rapid in the United States. Nearly 15 million residents have had their identity stolen totaling in excess of 50 million dollars in financial losses. Thieves are seeking out information on the young and old, and individuals and businesses in attempt to gain financial gain.

Just The Facts

These criminals are looking for information from credit, debit, checking, and savings accounts but have also expanded out to other financial information such as cell phones, cable, water, gas, and electric service. All in, the average loss of an identity theft comes in at $3,500, while it takes over 25 hours to recover from the theft after going through the red tape to correct your credit bureaus.  Here’s some more interesting identity theft statistics that you may find interesting (courtesy of IdTheftAuthority.com)

The consequence one entails when identity theft is committed includes damaged credit, and loss of funds in a checking or savings account. Unfortunately, though the number of instances of identity theft continues to rise, the actual number of perpetrators prosecuted is minimal. The identity theft criminal many times focus in on children and the elderly.

Child ID Theft

Early on children do not have a need for credit, yet the social security number is sought after by the criminal. The criminal utilizes the social security number to obtain credit which permits them the opportunity to defraud creditors. More than ever, it is important for parents to periodically run a credit report on their children to make certain this does not happen. By doing so, children down the road will not have any issues arise when attempting to secure financial aid for college, purchase an automobile or cell phone, and be certain their background check will come back clean when applying for employment.

Seniors are a target of the identity thief. Many seniors do not have a need to open a line a credit in their later years, and consequently, may not run a credit bureau to check to see if fraud has been committed. Many seniors fall victims of scams via mailings and phone contacts. For example, some offer to complete their tax work or claim to be lottery officials. Namely, the thief is looking for anything to obtain some personal information in order to open up a line of credit in the unsuspected senior’s name for financial gain.

Running a free credit report yearly is one step to monitor that one has not stolen your identity. In addition, properly safeguarding your personal information will assist as well. Secure and properly dispose of your incoming and outgoing mail. Identity thieves look for credit card offers, paychecks, phone and utility bills, medical bills, and insurance information. Invest in a post office box in order to keep your mail from getting stolen, and always make certain that your mail, receipts, and any other important documents with your personal information is destroyed using a cross-cut shedder.