Signs That Your Identity Is Stolen
Every rose, they say, has a thorn. So, cybercrime is at an all-time high, given the technology at our disposal.
Identity thieves will take considerable measures to obtain your personal information, including your Social Security number, financial institution account information, and credit card information.
Most identity theft victims are unaware they are victims until it is too late, and some may not even know how to report the crime at all.
Watch for these warning signs to apprehend a thief before the consequences get out of hand.
You notice inaccuracies on your credit report.
Pro tip: Request a free credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion).
Experts recommend using this feature every four months to look for suspicious components such as unidentified accounts or credit inquiries.
If you uncover an inaccuracy, inform the credit reporting agencies immediately. “Ask them to investigate and remove any erroneous information on your credit report,” says Identity Theft Alert author and Bentley University professor Steven J.J. Weisman. “This is crucial for future credit score protection.” If you want to safeguard your identity, these are the most essential items you should never carry in your wallet.
If your wallet is taken, losing these items is significantly more severe than losing a few dollars.
Keep your personal information secure.
Protecting your online and offline identities is critical in today’s environment.
This includes choosing secure passwords for your online accounts and knowing what to keep in your wallet and leave at home.
Continue reading to discover what you should never keep in your wallet.
Social Security Number
Keeping your Social Security card or number in your wallet is unacceptable. “In the hands of a thief, Social Security cards and the number itself are some of the most precious information,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Centre.
“With it, they may simply file taxes in your name, request a loan, seek medical treatment, or even conduct crimes in your identity.”
If your wallet contains your Social Security number, report the theft immediately to the Social Security Administration.
Card for Health Insurance
Even if you do not have your Social Security card, your SSN may be found on a Medicare card, an even more common form of theft.
The former Medicare numbers, valid until January 2020, are your Social Security number with one or two letters and digits added – not too tricky to figure out.
Carry your card only when you have a doctor’s appointment to avoid handing away one of the most crucial numbers a hacker can take, says Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout, a global identity protection and data risk services company and author of Swiped.
Make a Xerox copy of the card every other day, erase all except one or two numbers, and write an emergency contact’s [phone] number on the back. In this way, emergency responders can still get the information they need.
At first glance, a department store or bank receipt may not have much information. On the other hand, a skilled thief can use this knowledge to steal your money more efficiently.
For example, someone who sees a string of receipts from midweek evenings at Target may purchase there on a Monday night without triggering any red flags with the credit card provider.
Alternatively, your credit card company’s customer service department may be more willing to believe a fraudster who is familiar with all of your recent purchases.
A phisher may even send you an email impersonating your favourite restaurant and install malware on your computer when you click a link.
Why have a data point that only discloses another piece of the puzzle if it ends up in the wrong hands? If I don’t need anything, I shred it rather than throw it away.
Instead of retaining receipts in your wallet after each purchase, request an email copy or store printed receipts digitally using apps such as Shoeboxed.