Ask the Experts on Identity Theft
You're more likely to become a victim of identity theft during the holidays than at any other time of year. Adam Levin from Identity Theft 911 explains how to protect yourself.
Ask the Experts on Identity Theft
Jill Schlesinger: Welcome to Ask The Experts I’m Jill Schlesinger, Editor at large of CBSMoneyWatch.com and I am joined by -- really there’s only one expert in this room let me be clear Adam Levin. You are the expert.
Adam Levin: No you are the --
Jill Schlesinger: No, you, you, you. Okay let me just do it. Adam’s been with us for before but we promise to bring him back before the holidays because he has so much amazing advice and I would say cautionary tales about identity theft and we’re coming into the holiday season and people are wiping out the credit cards and the debit cards so we want to talk a little bit about that. First, let me do your bio which as always quite fascinating. You know like the former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, so he’s like a politician but he escaped, it’s okay.
He is Chairman and co-founder of Credit.com and Identity Theft, 911 and a nationally recognized expert in credit and identity theft. All right, if that alone would have been sufficient through his regulatory experience, Mr. Levin realized the lack of reliable and accurate credit information available to consumers at that time and response to the demand, Adam created Credit.com as a resource and online market place for solutions that help enable consumers to actively manage their credit finances.
So, Adam we are talking about this before the show and we were talking about management of your credit and what was the analogy you use because I loved it, what is the analogy of managing your credit?
Adam Levin: Well, when you say the word portfolio to most people the Pavlovian response is investments, but most people don’t think of the fact that you have two other equally critical portfolios if not more but the two that come to mind are your credit portfolio and your identity portfolio.
And just as you would hope that someone who was a professional was managing your investment portfolios, you have to be in the professional manager of your credit and identity portfolios because there really anybody else that will or can. There’s nobody knows more about use than you do and again it doesn’t matter how many laws there are, how vigorously those laws are enforced. The ultimate guardian of the consumer has been, is and will always be the consumer.
Jill Schlesinger: Yeah and so that’s a great analogy though because it puts the control back in our hands and there are ways to control this. I mean it feels pretty scary and identity theft is still the fastest growing white-collar crime, isn’t it out there pretty much?
Adam Levin: Yes, pretty much the fastest growing crime out there.
Jill Schlesinger: How worried does everyone need to be about this for real?
Adam Levin: Now I think you do, I mean I had a conversation not so long ago with somebody who said, you know this is a fear driven industry and when are you guys going to stop driving fear? And I said let’s look at this calmly.
Somewhere between 10 to 15 million people every year are going to become victims, have been and continue to be victims of some form of identity theft.
Jill Schlesinger: 10 to 15 million?
Adam Levin: 10 to 15 million and the reality is the number is probably higher because so many forms of identity theft are not properly reported or aren’t reported all. For instance, a significant percentage of identity theft is committed by friends and family members and there are a lot of people who will not rent out a friend or a family member.
Jill Schlesinger: Wow, I have no idea.
Adam Levin: Now it is just as a significant number. In addition to which where child identity theft it could be years before you find out that you are a victim, with synthetic identity theft you may never find out.
Jill Schlesinger: Hold on, hold on, what is synthetic identity?
Adam Levin: Synthetic Identity theft if someone takes your name and address and my Social Security Number and Roland’s birth date and squashes them together and creates essentially the bionic person. Now sometime over time the trend of breadcrumbs will lead back to the Social Security Number and maybe through a background check, it might lead through a name match to one of the parties, the birth date isn’t terribly relevant as to one person because millions of people have the same birth date but this is the fastest growing segment of identity theft.
Jill Schlesinger: I think this is actually a question that we got from Randy in New York, if you got a question shoot us an email at AsktheExpert@MoneyWatch.com or go to MoneyWatch.com and join our live chat.
So here’s the question. Randy says he has heard about this idea to have multiple people under a single Social Security Number, sometimes as many as 50 different names. Maybe some of them are illegal or made up or whatever, Randy wants to know how can I find out how many people are using my Social Security Number and he says, “I understand Experian offers a social search product that gives the best 10 best names for Social Security Number but only sells it to commercial entities.”
So, is that synthetic, like we’re it’s just a bunch of different people under the same Social Security Number.
Adam Levin: Yes, because normally it would be somebody else’s name and generally somebody else’s address because the last thing they want is any of their mailer information going to you and your Social Security Number.
There’s no limit to the amount of people that could end up with your Social Security Number because they’ve stolen it. The Social Security Administration in almost no circumstances changes the Social Security Number and I’ve had instances where someone had his Security Number then by mistake it was issued to a second person and somehow in the midst of the debate with the Social Security Administration it came back to the first person as they have to get the consent of the second person in order to work it out.
It’s a very complicated totally crazy process but the one thing that’s very unique to us in our universe of identifiers is the Social Security Number. Names can change, addresses can change, birthdates can be shared by millions of people but theoretically there is only supposed to be one Social Security Number per person and the problem is that we as a nation that becomes so addicted to Social Security Numbers. But in the old days the only people that really had an interest or should have an interest in your Social Security Numbers is the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service and your stay taxing authority.
Beyond that, that should have been it but suddenly there was this tsunami of organizations that decided to use the Social Security Numbers as the identifier.
Jill Schlesinger: And should you not do that? I mean if you have a choice but it doesn’t seem like there’s really a choice. I mean even if your health insurance often that’s your Social Security Number you give it out all the time on the phone when they say there’s a representative, should you not do that?
Adam Levin: Well, if you’re controlling the situation. In other words if somebody calls you on the phone and says, “Hey Jill.” Example, “Is this your credit card number?” And I read you card number. You go, yeah and this is your expiration day, right and you go yes and they go do us a favor because where your bank just flip it over and read us the three digit code on the back.
Wait a minute, you’re my bank, you called me? Why should I tell you? What you do then is flip the card overlooking the phone number, call it, speak to customer service, ask to speak to the security department. You should never be giving your Social Security number out to anybody that calls you on the phone and asks you to confirm you're you by giving them your Social Security number.
Jill Schlesinger: And people must do that all the time.
Adam Levin: Often, often and you know it goes back to when you were a child what do your parents tell almost, rule number one, never speak to strangers.
Jill Schlesinger: Right.
Adam Levin: And yet in the society we live in whether it’s online, in person or on the phone, people can’t sit to help themselves. They just give out information because they are very clever people who are doing nothing but sucking this information out of un-wedding people.
Jill Schlesinger: And you know—so that seems like a sort of obvious thing like don’t give this information out. What are the less obvious things, I mean we are entering the holiday season and here on Credit.com you do have a nice column, a blog here about the holiday tips for online shoppers and I’m just wondering this tons of stuff here but what do you think are some of the less obvious things that we do that we should watch out for during the holidays?
Adam Levin: Well, the first step is your credit and your identity is an asset. That too many people look at credit and they think that if it is crime and punishment and so it’s a bad thing. Whereas the truth is it’s a great thing and it can be a wealth builder and it can really give you a solid foundation in terms of finances because remember every dollar you’re not paying for a dollar is a dollar available to invest or to buy whatever it is you want to make your ––.
Jill Schlesinger: Right Credit is not–– this is not a terrible thing. I mean look the capitalism runs on credit to some extent. You borrow money, you do better things with it. The US government is I think I just read by the way, that the last time we were debt free was under Andrew Jackson. It doesn’t work about her.
Adam Levin: I was there.
Jill Schlesinger: Yeah, I thought I saw you there too. He said –– so you know what is interesting it isn’t only a bad thing it can be a constructive thing but it has to be correctly, right?
Adam Levin: No, absolutely and as aside now, we happen to have a really cool thing with Credit.com, which is called the credit report card, and it’s absolutely positively, free. And you go, it draws information from your Trans-union report and it grades you and then it tells you what you did right, what you did wrong, what you need to do better and then it shows you where you sit across a band of the five credit scoring systems that are out there, FICO being the best known and then some of the lesser known ones just so you kind of get a feel for it.
And it’s all about being armed when you go out into the market place, now when you are looking for a job and that’s why it’s so critically important to be aware and as we were talking about earlier, the little things that you do or don’t do can you really put you on harm’s way and suddenly turn you into a victim which could then take your credit portfolio and disintegrate it and take every other portfolio with it.
So some thoughts first, if you’re going to go to a shopping site, make sure it’s secure.
Jill Schlesinger: And that’s the https.
Adam Levin: Https and also the magic over the lock that you see you click on the lock, it will show you the digital certificate whether or not it’s a trustworthy site, some sites that are really trustworthy still have sort of strange digital certificates so that shouldn’t scare you to death but the second thing is often times people go to a site and misspell the name of the retailer and there are folks out there who actually--
Jill Schlesinger: They count on that.
Adam Levin: They do. They’re hoping.
Jill Schlesinger: They count on as being bad spellers.
Adam Levin: Right.
Jill Schlesinger: And then it’s a fake site.
Adam Levin: Totally.
Jill Schlesinger: And you’re about to plug-in all these stuff and you think it’s Target.com and it’s “turget” or something.
Adam Levin: Neman Marcus becomes N-E-E –M- A- N, stuff like that.
Jill Schlesinger: I would never make that mistake.
Adam Levin: So it’s very important to be accurate in the way you spell and then you can start to get a fill from this side that something is not right when it says, we need your Social Security Number but you’re not applying for a credit card or give us your email password or they might ask for a bank account information.
Jill Schlesinger: Oh, here it is. Here are the keys to my house.
Adam Levin: That’s it.
Jill Schlesinger: Here’s my safe deposit box, I mean you really could be handling over so much.
Adam Levin: Oh on the analogy, and social networking is the people who can’t control themselves from having to tell everybody where they’re going on vacation and how long they’re going to be gone, there was a site that was a credit called PleaseRubMe.com because you know people were saying here, it’s like the key is in the car, the door is unlocked, take it.
Jill Schlesinger: Can I veer off for one second because my boss just posted something on our chat. By the way, if want to go to MoneyWatch.com we have a lot chat rock in here. So Maryann wants to know what is the right balance between protecting yourself but not being paranoid like she’s kind of like –– well, that does seem hard now?
Adam Levin: Now, it is and I think a touch of paranoia may not be such a bad thing but what you always have to do is sort of take the position in whatever you do. This is my asset and how much information—for instance if somebody walked in and said to you give me your Social Security Card and they looked you in the eye. You’d say, “Are you nuts?”
Jill Schlesinger: Right.
Adam Levin: Or someone would say, “Hand me your credit card, let me just use it for a little bit and give it back to you.” The answer is no. It was a wonderful commercial a couple of years ago, and I think it was in the US Postal Inspection Service where a woman was sitting in a bus, a nicely dressed man in a suit and overcoat with a briefcase sat down next to her, looked very elegant, sober hair and started talking to her about, “I represent someone from a far nation. We’ve selected you. You’re the person who we can send money to but we need you to do these things.” Or guess what you just won a lottery, they had different commercials and the whole theme of it was if someone sat down next to you and look you in the eye and told you this, you wouldn’t buy it.
Jill Schlesinger: No.
Adam Levin: So why is it that someone says this to you online and suddenly it becomes the Gospel. So, the other thing is when you’re dealing with these sites and this is the great line between paranoia and security is most consumers opt for convenience versus security and the reality is that you always have to think about why does somebody want this information, what is it really going to do for me? How do I win by giving this information and are there not better alternatives for me to get what I want without basically giving my information treasure throve away.
Jill Schlesinger: Now if someone just walked into a podcast and you haven’t given them permission or you didn’t really know when they were coming would you let them sit down and just start talking to you, that oh—Hi, Jack.
Jack Otter: I have both of your Social Security Numbers.
Adam Levin: Exactly.
Jill Schlesinger: What Jack Otter is in –turn off your cell phone so we don’t do that thing.
Adam Levin: I’m sorry with that yeah.
Jill Schlesinger: Jack’s been taking care of his son who actually parted like a rock star last time for his birthday and is now sick. Interesting, what kind of party was that, man? How old is this kid?
Jack Otter: He turned four yesterday.
Jill Schlesinger: Oh so you are rocking it?
Jack Otter: He lay down on the seat while the rest of the people ate dinner. He did not touch his cupcakes. Mommy had opened his presents for him and went straight to bed. So—
Jill Schlesinger: You know what.
Jack Otter: We’re going to do a reprise in a couple of days.
Jill Schlesinger: All right very good, very good, well we’re talking identity theft. It’s very exciting here and Adam and I were just talking about the holidays and how this is a time when people just sort of seem to be very open with bringing out their credit cards, talking to people on the phone and also I think to some extent they’re just in a rush. They can’t think about these things. So what are the other things during the holidays especially that you should be kind of careful about.
Adam Levin: Well a lot of fun by the way, great tie. A lot of folks get taken over by acquisition ecstasy during the holidays.
Jill Schlesinger: Oh, I like that acquisition ecstasy.
Adam Levin: Acquisition ecstasy.
Jack Otter: We have to use that more.
Jill Schlesinger: I took some of that in my junior year I think.
Adam Levin: Yeah, I understand that—it’s where is the suddenly the 52-inch flat screen TV suddenly becomes the obsession of the month.
Jill Schlesinger: Oh, very nice.
Adam Levin: But the problem is that often times acquisition ecstasy can cloud judgment and a lot of people during the holiday season are counting on the fact that you’re going to be a, in the midst of acquisition ecstasy and b, completely distracted because you’re looking at everything under the sun to figure out what am I going to get, time pressure is moving, you’re in a sweat and you start doing things quickly. Sometimes you overpay but what’s worse is you get people information you shouldn’t.
So if you want to really take it from the beginning a, don’t ever shop online unless and until you have every possible security software device that you can get on your computer and not only get the firewalls, as well as the empty Malware security as well as the normal security but update it often.
Because having security software does not update it. It’s like having a gym membership but not showing up. It looks good, sounds good does nothing.
Jack Otter: Is there anything that people should know about that? I mean for instance what brand to get, how do you update software, do you go to their website, and upload updates, patches, how does that work?
Adam Levin: Well, there is the first the other sites that they can recommend stuff and I was trying to stay away for recommending software per se but there are some that will automatically update? I mean I want my computer talks to me everyday. So as your software has been updated and usually comes at the moment I went to phone call and it scares me up to death. I can’t figure out who’s talking to me or in the middle of the night.
The second thing is that you could also go to their sites and update as well and check for the most recent update.
Jack Otter: Automatic seems better.
Adam Levin: Yeah, automatically.
Jill Schlesinger: Yeah, Automatic School.
Adam Levin: And it should be thorough and especially the one thing you want is the anti-keystroke logging software.
Jill Schlesinger: Hold on a second. Anti-keystroke logging software.
Adam Levin: They call it Malware, they call it that and what that means is that if you click on something you shouldn’t and it’s oftentimes it can be just a picture that was sent by someone you thought was a friend.
Jill Schlesinger: Or thought have a good sense of humor.
Adam Levin: That’s true.
Adam Levin: It will contain malicious code. This code will then crawl into your computer and turn your computer into a transmitter which means that every time you go to your bank or your credit union or your stock broker and you enter in an account number as well as putting your password, somebody in the Ukraine or some place close there to suddenly, gets all your information. So it’s very, very important to make sure your computer is protected as possible.
The second thing is we know that American Press always says don’t leave home without it but the corollary to that is don’t leave home unless you’ve left a bunch of your credit cards and debit cards home. If you go out, don’t take more than one ATM or debit card.
Jill Schlesinger: No, you don’t need to have your entire life with you all the time.
Adam Levin: No, you don’t and don’t take 48 credit cards with you because first of all.
Jill Schlesinger: You don’t have 48 credit cards for God’s sake, okay sorry just a moment of sanity there.
Adam Levin: There you go, but what you need to do is first you should have been reserved because if your credit card or debit card gets lost or stolen you immediately have an alternative as opposed to having to wait a few days to take out and it be replace.
Secondly, there’s a lot less damage control you have to do because you only have called trouble numbers and solve the problem. And another thing is it might actually help you restrain yourself. The other thing critically important you understand the year is at any time of the year but in particular now is spend a few minutes a day, everyday online looking at your bank account or credit card account just to make absolutely sure that every transaction you see is really your transaction and it has this other therapy to that effect bringing you face to face with what your spending.
Jill Schlesinger: Your reality.
Adam Levin: The reality check and of course you're coming to the line either your credit limit or zero in the account that happens to be attached to that debit card.
Jill Schlesinger: And this seems like a little bit of the buzz kill for my acquisition ecstasy. I mean I’m a little -- I’ve got a good question here from Nicole in California on that note about bringing your whole life with you. She and her family, she believes could be victims of identity theft.
Last week my husband’s truck was broken into next-door house. His wallet was one of the things taken from the cab of the truck. We’ve already taken care of all the credit cards but in his wallet was his--
Adam Levin: Social Security number.
Jill Schlesinger: Bingo, card with mine and my daughter, it’s written on the backside. I’ve been worried about identity theft since that day what should Nicole do and by the way her husband knucklehead, you don’t put your Social Security card with your stuff. You just don’t that, right.
Adam Levin: No.
Jill Schlesinger: Ever.
Adam Levin: Ever.
Jill Schlesinger: I don’t even know where my real Social Security card is. It must be like in my mother’s safe deposit box, I don’t even know where it is.
Adam Levin: I’ve actually never seen mine. There were rumors of it, it could be a hologram but --
Jill Schlesinger: A hologram, yours was on the original printing press.
Adam Levin: That’s very true.
Jill Schlesinger: Who came right out?
Adam Levin: It was actually part of the Guttenberg Bible.
Jill Schlesinger: It was actually part of the -- it was the little after thought from the 10 Commandments, it was chiseled.
Adam Levin: It was the 11th commandment.
Jill Schlesinger: Exactly.
Jack Otter: Are you sure you’re using the right number?
Adam Levin: I’m actually using your number. I actually had one case an identity theft never want were and I tell said I don’t know if I really want to do anything about this I mean the guy just told identity has better credit than me.
Jill Schlesinger: Oh, I love that but-- So what do you do? I mean first it’s to know you never have your Social Security number written down anywhere in your wallet, what about like if you do need your kids Social Security numbers with you --
Adam Levin: Not necessarily, if you do you’ll always look let me get back to you with that or I’ll call you, I’ll give you the info once you confirm that they are who they should be. I mean it’s a sort of an offshoot crazy corner case with this. Puerto Rico has changed his entire birth certificate system because there were so many thefts of identities resulting from the fact that in Puerto Rico almost everywhere you went, almost every activity you were involved in wanted not a presentation of your birth certificate but a submission of your birth certificate, including a lot of children’s sports leagues.
Jill Schlesinger: Yes, that’s necessary.
Adam Levin: Of course there is the whole issue with Little League about whether or not people are the age they say that --
Jack Otter: 28-year-olds in Little League.
Jill Schlesinger: Right, that’s why Mariano Rivera’s actually got his ERP Card but he’s still pitching for the Yankees.
Adam Levin: There you go, there you go but --oh go ahead.
Jack Otter: So anyway I was just to say is to help these people, okay now they know the Social Security Card is in someone’s hand who could be an identity thief, what should they do?
Adam Levin: Okay step number one is to understand that when someone has your Social Security number they have an option on your life and the question is now if but when and they will actually call it in, sorry to be doctor death, you really are and the truth is that’s why you brought me in early before the holidays because you want to have cheery shows during the holiday season. First, they should immediately know about the credit reporting agencies is which I hope they did to put a front alert on their file but for the alerts now get caught up almost like their white noise because there are so many companies out there that are throwing fraud alerts on files until it’s lost if they happen a few months ago and the FTC actions about that kind of stuff so.
The second thing is they should look into credit freezes. Most of the station, the union permit you defreeze your credit. Some of them very inexpensively, some of them really quickly, so check with your state law. Also, each of this record of reporting agencies has the capacity now to allow you to do freezes on your credit reports that you can do online and it’s not terribly expensive. Some of them if you have a monitoring program they will allow you to do it for an extra couple of box a year. Other ones they charge ten in, ten out some states regulate it that it’s less expensive.
But you see, this is I guess the message that I have to bring to everyone is despite the representations of some out there the identity theft can be prevented. It can’t be a 100% prevented. So in your head you have to think if it’s a three-stage process. One, you have to educate yourself as much as possible so you learn how to mitigate your risk of exposure.
Two, you have to have devices in place like credit and fraud monitoring or practices in place where you check your accounts on a daily basis so that you can detect the issue as quickly as possible.
And third you have to have a damage control program in place if you are one of the 10 to 15 million people a year who inevitably will become a victim of some form of identity theft.
Jill Schlesinger: Now, should I you just use me as an example because I am a knuckle headed. Should I be having some sort of some thing tracking somebody to be watch and over the stuff for me if I don’t want to do it myself?
Adam Levin: You should.
Jill Schlesinger: Could you that for me?
Adam Levin: I will.
Jill Schlesinger: Jack could you do that for me?
Jack Otter: Sure.
Adam Levin: Jack and I--
Jack Otter: What is your Social Security number?
Jill Schlesinger: Yeah and your birth date.
Adam Levin: And some credit card numbers because you have to pass to do it. Now you should do that. Now, interestingly enough there are a lot of institutions out there that offer programs to their members, customers, clients, employees and they do it free. It’s a perk of having a relationship with the institution. Others charge something for it. It may will be an endorsement to an insurance policy and they’re not that terribly expensive. They could be between $15.00 to $45.00 a year depending upon who your insurance carrier is and what kind policy.
So step one contact your insurance agent and say before I go crazy just let me know if I already have a policy that covers me as part of my policy or do I need an endorsement or go to your bank, or your credit union and find out what a lot of credit unions give this to people again as a perk of membership.
Lots of smaller banks do as well, the bigger banks have their own programs that they charge for and then it’s just really a sort of a risk reward analysis which is what kind of protection am I getting. Make sure you understand it, what am I paying for and then say, “Is it worth to me to pay a $150.00 a year to have someone else worry about this” and it may or may not be and you can do it yourself just like you can change your oil, just like you can fix your car, just like there’s and a lot of people like to do that.
So it really has to do with how much work do you want to do and how much risk do you want to take and in the event you have a problem would you not prefer to actually have a professional, handle the problem for you and that’s just the question of what kind of program they offer that’s the damage control part and then if it suits your needs and you feel comfortable.
Jack Otter: So if I’m two-months late on my expense report right now as I’m the kind of guy who probably should outsource this job.
Adam Levin: It’s entirely possible that, that might be in your best.
Jill Schlesinger: Jack I will do your expensive and you can give me your Social Security number. Okay let me ask a couple of more files.
Adam Levin: And your credit card.
Jill Schlesinger: So Adrian wants to know must I destroy my receipts when I use my debit or credit card even though the credit card number doesn’t -- the entire credit card number doesn’t appear on the receipt, should you be ripping up your receipts all the time?
Adam Levin: Well, I’m a great believer if you don’t need the money it’s one thing if you need the receipt because there maybe a tax opportunity for you and of course those opportunities are shrinking as we speak. However, once you're done with them don’t just throw them out, shred them. It’s again convenience versus security but shred them and shred them using a cross-cut shredder because again even -- let’s assume you have a truncated number on that receipt, it’s just another piece of evidence so that you were that story you purchase this item, here’s your name, it’s just why do you need anyone to know anything about you.
Jill Schlesinger: Then you don’t want to share with them, okay.
Adam Levin: So that’s the point.
Jill Schlesinger: So last time you were here you totally freaked me up because you started talking about that this area of growth in identity theft is around kids and one of our bloggers actually wrote about the Stacy Bradford and talking about that your kids can absolutely be at risk and all right well first of all, we know that this idea about not revealing Social Security number but you know what can do, your kids are online more than you are, you know my nephew goes out and buys the tickets for the movies and it’s there’s all these stuffs that’s going on what should you do to protect against that?
Adam Levin: Well, you know again the concept of protecting against the child who’s going online to do some kind of online activity is almost the equivalent of trying to figure out how to achieve world peace. Assume to the moment is going to happen so therefore one of the things you need to do step number one is what we talk about earlier which is make sure you have every possible piece of security software on that computer because your child may innocently click on something that then may suddenly end up in your bank account and then you both pay the price.
So, parental controls are always important. There aren’t that many but there are some and the second thing is that you really have to stay on top. You have to have the big talk with your child early. Just like the talk about the birds, the bees and all other forms of community relationships.
The fact is you need to have conversations about this because this can be a family upheaval because of an identity theft that’s caused by an innocent action on a computer. But, yes children, 400,000 children a year are victims. The folks at the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego who are really pretty awesome, they came out with a proposal, some privacy and it freaked out. I happen to think that it’s a good proposal and that is from the day you were born to the day you're 17 years 10 months, your name and Social Security number goes on a database just like the Social Security death list.
So on this database and anytime anybody applies to any creditor for any credit whatsoever they have got to run that Social Security number against that database. I think that would save billions of dollars over the years and it would really protect a lot of young people from having tsouris. The fact is--
Ask the Experts on Identity Theft
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Identity theft in America is a problem that is just getting worse. For instance, in 2003, 4 million people were victims. In 2009, it is projected that more than twice that number - 9 million people - will fall prey to thieves. Criminals who steal your basic information can do so for a variety of purposes. For instance, they may have bad credit themselves and want to rent an apartment, establish utilities and do the basic functions of life. Unfortunately, they are highly likely to default on their bills given their previous history and this leaves you holding the bag....
The rate at which identity theft on the computer is being committed is increasing daily. Thieves are using newer technologies to take advantage of unprepared people on the web. Stay safe by learning about identity theft and how to protect your computer. Learn a bit here and always use common sense when online!...
An identity theft prevention plan keeps you from being liable in the case of someone taking your financial information and abusing it, potentially running thousands of dollars in charges against you. For instance, every time you fill out a credit card application or simply purchase something online, you have to give identifying and financial information out. Every time you give out identifying information, you put yourself at risk of being ripped off....
While criminal hackers are cracking databases and stealing millions of electronic records every year, street level identity thieves are a more insidious element of the identity theft epidemic. Thieves of this nature live in your neighborhood. In some parts of the country, local identity thieves tend to be meth heads....