How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft With Your Purse
By Sintilia Miecevole
Identity theft is the fastest growing criminal activity in the 20th Century, replacing illegal drug sales.
How BIG is this Problem?
Banks, credit card companies and businesses that house servers storing passwords or other sensitive information all report "break-ins"through Trojan viruses or other online hacking methods - resulting in the loss of millions of pieces of information. Instances of lost information are employees selling it and other lax security measures resulting in thieves having access to your identity.
- Your Name
- Date of Birth
- Home Address
- Phone Numbers
- Social Security Number
- Driver's License Number
- Credit Card Numbers
- CW2 Security Code (the number on the back of your credit card)
- Your Credit Report
- ATM Cards
- Telephone Calling Cards
- Mortgage Details
Where Are They Getting Your Information?
- Credit-Reference Agencies
- Credit Card Networks
- Data-Brokerage Companies
- Payment Processing Companies
- Phone Companies
- Your Employer
- Doctors, Clinics and Health Departments
- Government Agencies
There are other effective methods:
- Dumpster Diving
- Mail Theft
- Retail Theft
- Purse/Wallet Theft
What are Thieves Using Your Information For?
- Making charges to your existing credit cards
- Opening new credit cards in your name
- Having phone or utilities turned on
- Withdrawing money from your existing bank accounts
- Employment purposes
- Driver's Licenses
- Tax Fraud
- Social Service benefits
- Student loans
- Business or Personal loans
- Health care
- Mortgage loans/leases
- Auto loans
- Using your ID when caught committing a crime
How Can You Protect Yourself?
- Keep a photocopy of your credit cards, bank account numbers and investment account numbers in a safe place
- Keep your credit card receipts
- Put a "fraud alert on all your credit reports
- If you apply for credit and the card doesn't arrive on time, call the card issuer
- Choose difficult PIN numbers or passwords. (Don't use birth dates, your mother's maiden name, etc.)
- Never give personal information to anyone who sends you an email, a letter or calls you asking for it
- Shred personal information
- Don't use the ATM machine if someone is watching you
- Pay attention to what's going on around you - cell phones often have cameras in them. If someone is standing by you with a cell phone while you're entering a PIN number, block their view
- Review your bills each month. If there's something you don't remember, call the creditor.
- Check your credit report at least once a year
- Store your cancelled checks safely.
- Don't leave your purse in plain sight when driving
- Keep your valuables locked in the trunk or glove box when driving
- Make all personal information on your computer password protected
- Don't carry information about your PIN numbers, passwords and account numbers in your purse or wallet
Warning Signs that Your Identity Has Been Stolen:
- A loan application is denied, or you're refused extended credit requests
- You are contacted by a debt-collection agency
- Your purse or wallet has been stolen, or your house broken into
- Unfamiliar activity on your credit report
What to do if it Happens to You:
- If your purse or wallet is stolen, call the police
- Contact your bank, credit card and other credit extending companies and report the theft
- Close accounts
- Contact the credit-reporting companies
- Have fraudulent activity removed immediately and monitor your credit report every 90 days for the next year
- Put everything in writing
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission
- Change passwords on your existing accounts and create new ones for new accounts
Identity theft is real. There are no guarantees you can keep your information safe, by taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can minimize your chances of having an "identity crisis".
About The Author
Host, Sintilia Miecevole offers resources for purses with designs influenced by the latest trends.