Identity Theft Exploding: Here’s How you can Avoid Becoming a Victim - Plus, Tips if you do Become a Victim

Apr 12 21:00 2004 Steven Presar Print This Article

... are more ... about identity theft than ... or ... fraud, ... to a survey of 2,000 people ... by Star Systems. Nine out of ten ... demand new federal le

Americans are more concerned about
identity theft than unemployment or
corporate fraud,Guest Posting according to a
survey of 2,000 people conducted by
Star Systems.

Nine out of ten Americans demand
new federal legislation, while
two-thirds say the financial
services industry needs to do a
better job of verifying the
identity of customers who open bank
accounts (66 percent) and credit
card accounts (72 percent).

Some 5.6 percent of respondents
reported being victims of identity
theft, which translates to 12
million people. When debit and
credit card fraud and identity
theft were combined, close to 15.9
percent of consumers say they have
been the victim of one of these
crimes. (Source: Star Systems,

For most of us, using your debit or
credit card to make a purchase has
become an every day aspect of life.
Many of us do it every day and feel
safe in doing so.

But it is far from safe. People
with your debit or credit card
information may make purchases with
your card information over the
telephone, via the Internet, or at
a local retail store.

As we moved to a cashless system of
transactions by debit or credit
card, a relatively simple crime
niche has grown – identity theft
and fraud.

Some law enforcement authorities
are not pursuing the crime in a
coordinated and cooperative
fashion. Thus, a situation has
grown that affords the people who
perpetrate such acts of theft and
fraud, act with a degree of
confidents that they will not get

What can you do to reduce your
chances of becoming a victim of
identity theft or fraud?

Here is a list of actions that you
can take to avoid becoming a victim
of identity crimes.

1. Never throw receipts or
statements away that have personal
information on them. The trash is
the greatest repository of
information for the identity thief.
Even better, shred everything that
has identifying information on it
(transaction receipts, etc.).

2. Pay to have an unlisted
telephone number in your local
telephone directory.

3. Take as much identification off
of your personal checks and
driver’s license as possible. Thus,
no home addresses, phone numbers,
or social security numbers on
personal checks. Last only your
last name and first initial rather
than your full name. You want a
retail clerk to check your ID when
you are cashing a check.

Most states now provide a photo ID
on all new automobile drivers
licenses issued. If you do not have
one, conceder getting your licenses
renewed now to get a photo ID for
identification purposes. Do not put
your social security number on your
driver’s license.

4. Check your bank accounts for
suspicious activity everyday, this
can be done online via the

5. Have your middle initial removed
from all public documentation if
possible. Middle initials help
identity thieves narrow down their
searches for victims.

6. If someone calls you asking for
your personal information on the
telephone – do not provide any
personal information to anyone over
the phone.

7. Don’t leave your mail out
overnight. If you will be away from
home for any period of time: have
your home mail delivery stopped. If
possible, secure a locked mail box
at your local post office or a
retail store mail box service for
your home mail delivery.

If you go on vacation, have your
mail and newspaper delivery stopped
and arrange to have your yard
maintained. Include the post
office, newspaper service, and your
friends or neighbors to insure that
your home looks as if it is
occupied while you are gone.

For a checklist for your home
security while you are away see –
www checklist.html or html#home.

8. Write “Check ID” on the back of
your debit or credit cards next to
your signature. In that way, when a
retail store checks your signature
on your card, they will verify that
the card is being used by the
proper individual.

9. Be aware of people standing too
close to you and “shoulder surfing”
you while you conduct your ATM

If you do become a victim of an
identity crime – do the following:

1. Demand to file a police report
no matter how unwilling the law
enforcement office may be. Make
sure to get a copy or at least the
report number.

2. In the case of card fraud, make
sure to cancel your card and report
it as stolen to your credit card
company as soon as you find out.

Immediately, fill out affidavits
with the appropriate financial
institution denying that you were
the one who made the relevant
purchases. In most cases, the banks
will respond with up to a 30-day
process that requires the
businesses that accepted the
fraudulent transactions to repay
the banks.

3. Report the fraud to the three
major credit bureaus:

~ TransUnion Post Office Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

~ Equifax, Equifax Equifax Credit
Information Services, Inc Post
Office Box 740241 Atlanta, GA
30374 1.888.766.0008

~ Experian Consumer Information
Post Office Box 1909 Orange, CA

4. The U.S. Secret Service handles
fraud cases that cross state
borders. If you know that your case
applies, contact their local office
to make them aware of your case. If
it is part of a broader fraud case,
you may be contacted by an agent.

5. You can also fill out a
complaint form with the Federal
Trade Commission, although this is
strictly used to track national
identity theft statistics.

Copyright Steven Presar

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About Article Author

Steven Presar
Steven Presar

Steven Presar is a recognized small
business technology coach, Internet
publisher, author, speaker, and
trainer. He provides personal,
home, and computer security
solutions at He
provides business software reviews
at In
addition, he publishes articles for
starting and running a small
business at Be
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