Monday, June 18, 2007

What is Identity Theft and How to Prevent It

We thought we would talk a bit about identity theft because it is becoming such a significant problem, not only on the internet but even via mail theft, stolen credit card numbers at the store, etc. This is an issue that everyone needs to be aware of and proactive about regarding prevention. We are presenting information on the LifeLock service because we use it and feel it is a valuable tool in the fight to maintain identity security. Over time, we will be writing more posts on how you can help secure your identity on a daily basis with simple actions you can take at home and at work. Be smart and take steps now to safeguard your identity and your financial security.

Identity theft occurs when someone gains access to your personal information such as name and address, date of birth, social security number, credit card numbers, and/or mother’s maiden name. Once the thief has any combination of these items, he may attempt to open credit accounts in your name (this can include your business name) or to use currently open accounts to make purchases or withdrawals. This can lead to overdrawn accounts, excess applications on your credit record, not to mention an extreme amount of debt that you may become responsible for. Once identity theft has occurred, repairing the damage to your credit can be a long and difficult process.

There are ways you can help prevent identity theft and we are going to outline a few of the ways here:

  • Don’t carry your social security card or number with you.

  • Don’t throw out bank statements, credit card statements or bills in the regular trash or recycling. Make sure these items are shredded first.

  • Don’t carry extra credit or debit cards. Only carry the cards you know you will need.

  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone or online unless you have initiated the call or transaction.

  • Do put all outgoing mail into an official postal receptacle (mail box or directly at the post office). Don’t put mail into an unsecured mailbox.

  • Do keep all personal and financial information in a safe and secure place, even at home. You want to keep information away from prying eyes of roommates or outside workers who come into your home. Investing in a safe deposit box or home safe is an excellent idea.

  • Do monitor your credit report on a regular basis.

  • Do use a service such as LifeLock to secure your credit and personal information. Relative to the hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars lost when identity theft occurs, this service is a real bargain.

  • Do safeguard your children’s identity and your business identity the same way you would your personal identity.

If you have been a victim of identity theft, don’t panic but act quickly to repair the damage and prevent further spending by the thief. If you have a service such as LifeLock, all you need to do is contact them and they will quickly go to work for you to repair credit problems, remove unauthorized charges and accounts and inform the authorities. Using a service such as this, however, will usually prevent the identity theft from occurring in the first place. In our opinion, this service is well worth the small investment.

If you don’t have an identity theft prevention service and you are a victim of id theft, contact the FTC at and follow the steps recommended to try to restore your credit. Be sure you contact all 3 credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit report to prevent further attempts by the thief to open new lines of credit.

We recommend using a service such as LifeLock. They can prevent identity theft from ever occurring in the first place and that should be your goal. Here are a few of the services that come with your LifeLock account:

  1. They Guarantee what they do.

  2. They block your credit so that only you can use it.

  3. They stop pre-approved credit offers (this is a huge time saver and stress reliever on it’s own!).

  4. They drastically reduce the amount of junk mail you get (who wouldn’t like that?!).

  5. They ensure that things go smoothly when you apply for credit.

  6. They fix any problems that do occur.

  7. LifeLock is the ONLY PROACTIVE Identity Theft Prevention Solution backed by a One-Million Dollar Guarantee. Click here to get a 10% discount.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You can do all this stuff yourself with a little bit of research. I had Life Lock and they didn't do half the stuff they said they would. Life Lock also made unauthorized charges on my credit card.