Hackers and thugs are in the news every day clobbering powerhouse retailers like Target, Home Depot and even the big banks.
So if they are not safe, what about you?
And worse now they are actively targeting children and the elderly.
Why them instead of a big company with lots of data to steal?
“It’s simple,” says security expert Joe Vogel,
“They are the least likely of all people to discover the identity theft, and the least likely to fight it.”
The fact is that there is a period in life when we are most likely to pay attention to our credit and to apply for credit. It’s when we’re busy buying houses and cars and moving up the corporate ladder.
For children, who have not yet reached that point, and elderly, who are past it, the reasons to check their credit report are often few and far between.
“Because they don’t apply for loans as much, elderly people are easy targets.
Children are easy targets because nobody suspects that their SSN could be used.”
Regardless of your age, you should take steps to protect your credit from identity thieves.
Here is a method you can use to protect yourself for FREE. (Yes, really free.)
Before we get started understand this important fact:
about 40% of the identify theft risk that you face in your life will be from people you know—and even from those you love and trust.
Another third of the risk will be from things like stolen purses and wallets.
And credit monitoring can only do so much.
As few as 11% of identity theft cases are discovered through the user of credit monitoring services.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Follow this plan.
Two Types of Identity Theft
First of all, there are two main types of identity theft:
- Basic Identity Theft, and
- Credit Hijacking Identity Theft
Basic identity theft occurs when a criminal steals your identity and then uses it to obtain new credit.
Credit hijacking identity theft is when a criminal steals your identity in order to access and use your existing credit accounts.
Here’s how you can defend yourself against each type of identity theft.
Defending Against Basic Identity Theft
The best way to defend against basic identity theft is through the placement of an “initial fraud alert” on all three credit reports.
What does this do for you?
It has the following 3 effects:
- Credit bureaus can’t sell your information to third parties anymore which means someone can’t intercept your mail, fill out a credit card offer and then steal it when it arrives in the mail, if they didn’t redirect to another address.
- Nobody can be approved for credit in your name until the creditor calls you at the number listed on your credit report.
- You get a free copy of all three of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus.
The initial fraud alert only lasts 90 days.
You can extend it for up to 7 years by writing the credit bureaus at the address provided on the confirmation letters you received after filing your initial fraud alerts.
Defending Against Credit Hijacking Identity Theft
Credit hijacking is a little trickier.
In this form of identity theft, a criminal will call your banks and creditors posing as YOU, in order to change your address information on the account.
Then they can order things in your name that get delivered to them, and by the time you find out they may have already spent thousands of dollars.
This strategy bypasses an important security feature of credit cards known as “AVS”, or “Address Verification Service”.
This is the security feature that requires your address to match that on the credit card.
After they change it, it does.
The best way defend against this is to add another layer of security to your communications with the banks and credit card companies.
This can be done by setting up a personal security code with all of your bank accounts and credit cards.
This “security code” is a unique number or combination of letters and numbers that only you know, and that an identity thief won’t be able to guess.
When you set up this number, it blocks thieves from making changes to your accounts without knowing the pass code.
It is far better than using the last four digits of your SSN or your mother’s maiden name, as that info is surprisingly easy for criminals to get a hold of.
Identity Theft Proof
If you use both of the above techniques, you will be virtually identity theft proof.
Of course, you should still use common sense and be vigilant with regards to your privacy and your personal information:
Keep pin numbers and passwords in your head and nowhere else if possible.
Shred documents with private information on them.
Avoid giving out your SSN and other key security credentials whenever you can.
You’d be surprised how many places ask for your social security number that don’t actually need it. Many will tell you it’s optional if you resist or question it.
NOTE: This report was excerpted from the “Real Cash Secrets” home study course.
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