Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in America. In fact, nearly 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2005, reports the Federal Trade Commission.
The most common way to stop identity theft is to shred any important documents that have a credit card or Social Security number on it before throwing it away. But, some ambitious thieves have found ways around sorting through the trash to get victims? information.
- According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is how thieves get personal information:
- Stealing records or information while they're on the job.
- Bribing an employee who has access to personal records.
- Hacking into company databases and records.
- Conning information out of employees.
- Stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information.
- Access credit reports by abusing an employer's authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access a credit report.
- Stealing credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as "skimming."
- They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you may enter or swipe your card.
- They may steal wallets or purses.
- They may complete a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location.
- They may steal personal information they find in a victim?s home.
- They may steal personal information through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that there is a problem with a certain account. This practice is known as "phishing" online, or pretexting by phone.
How to Prevent ID Theft
Deployed servicemembers concerned about identity theft, can monitor their credit reports using an active-duty military alert. This tool will remove the applicant's name from the credit reporting companies' marketing list for pre-screened credit card offers for two years. If the deployment is longer than two years the alert can be extended.
Additionally, Experian -- one of the nation's largest credit reporting agencies -- provides Triple Advantage Credit Monitoring. This service offers a free credit report, free credit score, and 30 days of credit monitoring from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Monitor your credit report closely and report any discrepancies to Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. If you suspect that you have been the victim of ID theft the FTC recommends that you close all accounts that have been tampered with.
For more information about monitoring your credit visit Military.com's Finance Center.