31st October, 2015
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft – Part 2
The 2015 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 12.7 million U.S. consumers in 2014, compared with $18 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. Across the country, there was a new identity fraud victim every two seconds in 2014.
Of particular interest to many of those living in our Post Brothers apartments in Philadelphia, students are among the least likely to detect identity fraud themselves. In fact, according to the Javelin study, 22% of students who were victims of identity theft were notified of the fraud either by a debt collector or when they were denied credit, three times more frequently than other fraud victims.
Pennsylvania residents ranked #16 for identity theft complaints in 2014, with 10,446 complaints.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offers the following tips to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft:
- Make copies of your credit cards. Copy both sides of all your cards. If you lose your wallet, you’ll have easy access to all of your account numbers and phone numbers, allowing you to alert your bank immediately.
- Keep up with all receipts. Not only will you need them to make returns easily, but crooks are very interested in stealing the information they contain. Never stuff the receipts into your car visor or leave them exposed in any way.
- Open your credit card statements as soon as they arrive. Check the bill for any unauthorized purchases. Even better, keep a watchful eye on your accounts by going online and reviewing your accounts each week. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, report it immediately to your bank. Doing so will likely remove any payment responsibility you might have for fraudulent purchases.
- Secure all personal information even while at home. Unfortunately, many times an ID thief is someone we know. During the holidays, you may have guests in your home. Remove temptation by putting personal information out of sight.
- Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. Such services alert you via email anytime there is an inquiry or other activity to your credit report. In other words, if someone tries to open an account in your name, you’ll know about it. Such services are offered by all of the major credit reporting bureaus, and could be money well-spent.
- Order your credit report. Consumers are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three bureaus. Order a report now from one bureau, and order another one in January from a different bureau. This will give you a good snapshot of activity and will alert you to anything unusual.
We hope these tips will help you take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of your personal and financial information!