Coping With Identity Theft
Lock your doors, hide your money in the safe, hire security guards
to protect your prized possessions, but what can you do if someone
stole your identity? If something valuable is stolen, you can call
the police and hope to get your stolen property back.
Rightly termed as the crime of the 21st century, victimizing millions
of Americans, you can do very little if you find your identity stolen.
Identity theft is on the rise, and nearly everyone is vulnerable
to this new-age form of fraud.
How is it done?
Using all possible methods, criminals steal credit card numbers, social security numbers, telephone calling cards, ATM cards and other key pieces of an individual s identities. The information on these is used to impersonate the victim, by spending maximum money in the shortest time they can.
Preventive Steps or Precautions
- Avoid carrying valuable documents and cards with you whenever
you go out, unless it s absolutely necessary.
- Opt for the Direct Marketing Associations Mail Preference Service
and the Telephone Preference Service. By doing this, your name
is added to the computerized name deletion lists used by marketers
all over the nation.
- Pick the newly ordered checks from the bank and do not allow
them to be sent to your residential address.
- To keep the mailing system secure, install a locked mailbox
at your residence.
- Post mail bills and other sensitive items at the post office
instead of the neighborhood drop boxes. Sometimes the envelopes
containing the address could land in the wrong hands and be altered.
- Do not give out information over the phone unless it is an
individual belonging to a trusted company. Lottery and lucky dip
calls should not be entertained, as they are usually hoax. 7.
Release Social Security Numbers (SSN) only if it is necessary.
- While creating passwords and PIN numbers, avoid using numbers
from social security, birth date, middle name or any kind of important
personal numbers; these are said to be easy for criminals to figure
- Cross check that financial institutions are safeguarding your
important data. Insist on the removal of account numbers from
ATM slips; also ask them to shred the paper reports before throwing
After the Theft
- The moment you feel that there has been an identity theft, it
is important to report the crime to the police. Provide all the
requisite documented evidence. Even if the police refuse to give
the report, be persistent and demand it. Keep the police report
for the bank and credit card company s reference.
- Inform the banks, cancel all the savings and checking accounts
and get new account numbers.
- Call the 3 credit reporting companies and ask them to flag
the accounts. Ask for a fraud alert to be attached to the report
and extend it later if you want to. This fraud alert lets creditors
contact you whenever there is an attempt to open an account in
- File an ID theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission
after reporting the theft. This affidavit can be sent to credit
bureaus and institutions to close fraudulent debts and accounts
opened in your name.
- Lastly, do not blame yourself for the theft, you being the
victim should not feel guilty for the theft, and instead handle
the situation calmly.
Do not let all the reputation and respect you have earned be trifled with by a petty thief. It is sometimes observed that people you know are the ones who sabotage your identity by using it against you. Be on the safe side and avoid disclosing any personal information to anyone. The identity you have been given is yours to have; no other person has the right to take it from you.
Manage My Credit -
a website devoted to providing advice on managing your credit and debt