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Americans fear having their identities “stolen” by cybercriminals more than they do becoming victims of a terror attack, getting mugged or having their homes burglarized, according to a new survey released by Gallup, a polling firm.

Stopping Identity Theft: 10 Easy Steps to Security

Identity theft is a crime in which an attacker/hacker obtains your personal information, such as Social Security, credit cards numbers or driver’s license numbers etc. The attacker/thief can use your personal information to obtain credit, merchandise, and services in your name which will ruin your credit and may even create a criminal record.

An identity thief can be any stranger who steals your personnel information or may be someone posing as a bank representative (social engineering) to get your personal information over the internet.
The problem is you may not realize that you have been victimized by identity theft until you receive your statement. That’ why it is important to have some check in place which will tip off that you might have been victim of identity theft until it is too late. As the saying goes “trust but verify”.

10 million Americans fell victim to identity theft last year (08) alone. In a recent story from the Dayton Daily News, the Better Business Bureau’s John North noted that some criminals are using text messages when hunting for consumers’ credit information. The practice, which has been dubbed “smishing”, combines text messaging and the practice of “phishing

Identity Theft Tip Off:
Sacramento county detective Sean Smith told how to detect credit card fraud and potential identity theft by looking for a cheap transaction on your statement.
He said some thieves will charge $1 on a credit card to test whether the card is active. The detective told viewers that’s a red flag that’s something suspicious is going on with your account, and you need to call the credit card company immediately.

Identity Theft Victims:
If you are the victim of identity theft, file a police report and take the following steps:

Notify the Credit Bureaus
Contact the fraud departments of any of the three major credit bureaus to
place a fraud alert on your credit file.

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance
Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax: 1-888-766-0008; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

After cleaning your records from identity theft incident, check credit report periodically to make sure no new activity has occurred.

Identity Theft Consequences:
Consequences of identity theft can be serious. Your credit history can be ruined, a loan could be denied because of a negative credit report, you could even be arrested for crimes you didn’t commit because someone has been using your identity.

Identity Theft Countermeasures:

  • Check your credit card, medical and bank statements regularly, even weekly, to look for any unusual activity or any charges on your card that you didn’t make.

  • Before throwing any document out that contains your personal information, you need to shred the document. Cross-cuts shredder is recommended.

  • Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.

  • Only carry the credit card you may be using on the trip.

  • Do not give personnel information unless you can verify the person.

  • Avoid business online, unless the site is secure meaning your data is encrypted during the transaction.

  • Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

  • Place a freeze on your credit report.
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