4 Action Steps to Avoid ID Theft

Last update on: Dec 20 2018
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Identity theft was on the rise again in 2004. But the causes of ID theft will surprise most people.

A new study issued by the Better Business Bureau found that a minority of known ID theft occurred over the Internet. The study found that in 68.2% of ID theft cases in 2004 information was obtained offline. In addition, individuals who monitor their financial accounts online discovered ID theft faster and suffered losses of $551 compared to $4,543 in losses for the average offline ID theft loss.

The most likely source of ID theft was a lost or stolen wallet or checkbook. In cases in which the criminal was identified, half of the criminals were known to the victim.

The study found 9.3 million ID theft victims in 2004 compared with 10.1 million in 2003 FTC study.

Whether you conduct financial transactions online or offline, the steps for preventing ID theft are the same:

  • Monitor your financial accounts regularly and quickly report to your financial institution any suspicious or unfamiliar transactions.
  • Protect your identity. Do not have your Social Security number anywhere in your wallet or on your checks. If your state allows, have the number removed from your driver’s license.
  • Shred your trash. Thieves often find identity information in discarded account statements and bills. Unused pre-approved credit card applications also are a valuable asset to thieves. It is best to shred such sensitive information before discarding it.
  • Be careful with mail. ID thieves still grab outgoing and incoming mail looking for financial information. Especially valuable are outgoing bill payments left for the letter carrier to pick up. Incoming bills and account statements also have most of the information a thief needs. It is better to have mail delivered to a post office box and to take outgoing mail to a post office or mail box.

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