Identity thieves are running rampant in the United States. They used to target individuals only, but in recent years, have set their goals much higher. Just ask Target, Blue Cross and even United State Department of Office of Personnel Management. Still, people are targets for these low lives. Here are the best ways you can protect yourself from becoming an identity theft victim:
1. Check your credit report at least once a year. For bonus points, sign up with a credit monitoring service and check more often. Look at the names and address on each credit report to make sure that they belong or have belonged to you at one time.
2. Do not give your personal information to anyone unless they really need it.
3. Keep your birthday off of Facebook. An identity thief needs 3 and sometimes 4 pieces of information to steal your identity. Your name, address and social security number usually get the trick done. Sometimes, they also need your birthdate. Don’t make it easy for these jerks.
4. Do NOT respond to emails from institutions that ask for you to “validate” your account. Your account is already valid if you have one and the institution already has your information. These are most likely scams designed to take your information. Further, if any bank or large institution sends you an email, they will know your first name! If you get an email from them that does not address you by name, it’s a scam.
5. Buy a shredder and use it. Don’t throw out documents that contain your personal information without shredding them. Shredders are pretty cheap and available today.
If your identity has been stolen, go file a police report immediately. Then call me, Attorney Gary Nitzkin