How to save yourself from Identity theft ?

If you watch tv on any regular basis, you've probably seen one of the humorous Citibank commercials that portray various people talking with voices that are quite obviously not their own (like two older women talking with biker voices) describing all the various purchases they've just made with credit cards that aren't their own.




Identity theft is becoming a huge concern. According to David McIntyre, CEO of TriWest, 53 million identities have been stolen to date and 19,000 more are stolen every day. Companies on average spend 1600 work hours per incident at a cost of $40,000 to $92,000 per victim. (Source: CIO Magazine, 5/15/06)

Virtually all instances of identity theft start with the thief getting access to your credit card, debit card, or social security number. They can then either take over your existing accounts or open new accounts with your information

In cases of credit card fraud, you are usually liable for no more than the first $50 of the loss. Debit card users have less protection against fraud, and if they don't act fast enough, their entire account could be wiped out. Check out the Federal Reserve's Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws for more info.

One way identity thieves can open new accounts in your name is by filling out one of those junk mail applications and changing the details. A few months back, Rob Cockerham tried an experiment to see just how desperate credit card companies are for new accounts. So he cut up an application, taped it back together, changed the address to his father's home and included his cell phone number. Less than a month later, he received his new card at his father's address.




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Here are 7 ways to protect yourself from identity theft.



  • Buy a cross shredder - Shred any bills, personal correspondence and junk mail credit applications before throwing them out. Tearing is not enough.

  • Join the Federal Trade Commission opt out list or call 1-888-5OPTOUT.

  • Solicitation a credit report in any event once per year. You're entitled to a free annual credit report.

  • Set up a security freeze with credit agencies.

  • If you live in California, you can tell credit agencies to freeze your account - so that no creditor can open an account in your name without your permission and a secret pin number.

  • 18 states have introduced freeze laws into state legislature. (See MSNBC )

  • Don't carry your social security number in your wallet.

  • Delete email asking for personal information.

  • Be careful about giving credit card informaton and other personal data over the phone.

  • For more information, check out Justice Talking's podcast on Identity Theft and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse site.




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