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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Truth about Identity Theft

By Linda Seamore

Want to protect your identity like the law officials do? You've come to the right place! You'll find out just how these identity theft criminals plot their scams.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, there were almost 12 million incidents of identity theft in the United States in 2006 at a cost of $6.3 billion to consumers. This alarming statistic has increased the alert level of many consumers; however most are still unaware of the specific tactics these identity thieves use. After an extensive interview, one notorious identity thief, revealed 4 misconceptions she used to separate you from your money.

Myth #1: Only Men are Identity Thieves

This is a very common myth that makes an identity thief's job so much simpler. One of the main issues is that the media portrays most identity thieves as men. In actuality, most criminals are fashionable and attractive females! You can steer clear from this deception, by closely monitoring your personal data with both women and men. According to researchers, both men and women let their guard down around women, more than they would with men. Remember, everyone is a potential identity thief. You don't have to become fearful that everyone you meet is a crook, but just be aware.

Mistake #2: Trusting the Nice Store Clerk or Friendly Waiter

This one is hard to combat because in most cases you are required to hand over personal information and or documents to store clerks or waiters at restaurants. What you may not know is that some of those people who are waiting on you may in fact have two jobs. By day they work in the local department store but at night they have a side job. Their side job is simply to provide a few customers credit card numbers to their friends. This works so well because they have access to your credit card or account number. The only way to really combat this is to review your account statements. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of expenditures greater than a certain dollar amount.

For example, check your statement when it comes in the mail, that way if you notice anything out of the ordinary, even if it's just $50, you catch it. Question: How long does it really take for a store employee to gain complete access to thousands of consumers' personal information? Answer: A very short time. Based on what our infamous identity thief has stated, most of the identity thieves take on jobs for a little while, and after they've collected the data they need, they are long gone sipping mojitos by the bay!

Misconception # 3 Tossing Out That Junk Mail Unopened

Great credit, good credit, bad or indifferent, it is of no importance. In any given month yoou could receive anywhere from 12-50 or more new credit card offers or bank account offers. One of the main issues with this is that most of us don't take the time to try and secure our information. There are basically two categories. The first category is the person that doesn't have a personal shredding machine and just tosses them or tears them in half, as if it wouldn't be easy to put it together. The second category is the person that does have a personal shredder, but doesn't want to take the time to shred their documents.

Listen, all a thief has to do is get a hold of one piece of information from your trash can and you quickly become a victim. Dont believe me? Let me ask you this, what are doing at 3a.m.? Really, well guess what our trustworthy identity thief is doing? She is in your trash can randomly pulling a bag out of your can for shifting and sorting later. Tip: After you shred your documents, add a little water to the bag before you seal it and then toss it. Not only will the pages be sliced and diced but will also be a wet and soggy mess, completely unusable by anyone.

Mistake #4: Mailing or Receiving items from Your Home

By now you are beginning to see the point. Identity thieves commit their crimes in several ways. They steal credit card payments and other outgoing mail from private or curbside mailboxes. In fact, according to our expert, some will go a step further and file a change of address form in the victims name to divert mail and gather personal and financial data. Here is a simple tip. First, drop all of your outgoing mail in a local United States Postal Service mailbox. Second, consider opening a P.O. Box. I know this seems inconvenient but to truly protect yourself, these are some of the preventative measures you must take to win the fight against identity theft.

One of the main issues is that there are various ways to become a victim; you really do need 24 hour a day protection. Don't be afraid to get help!

Listen, very few people can successfully protect themselves and their families without help. The major problem is that you have been trying to do it alone and it is just NOT effective. How much difference would it make in your life if you had a proven guide who has been in the trenches? There are many companies like Lifelock.com that provide identity theft solutions for people like you and me.

When selecting a service to monitor and proactively protect your credit, make sure they have been recommended by over and over by top law enforcement personnel and their service has been proven to work in real world situations.

Identity Theft Protection and Identity Theft Prevention are serious issues. You can put an END to identity theft with LifeLock. LifeLock GUARANTEES identity theft will never happen to you. If you would like more information about identity theft protection, please visit lifelock.com.

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