Criminals are targeting people they can take advantage of and are working on more and more diabolically ingenious ways to fleece the unsuspecting public. Identity theft is one of the ways that this is happening, and it can be very damaging if it happens to you. It seems that older Americans are more likely to be at risk of identity theft, and while many are over the age of 50 or 60, there are still a significant number in their 40s being affected.
The scariest part of identity theft is generally the person who has had their identity stolen has no idea.The fraudsters then open new lines of credit under the new stolen identity, and exploit it to the maximum. In 2013, 73% of credit card fraud cases were due to new accounts being opened. Of course, the money charged to the account is never paid back, and so the bad credit rating could then be blamed on an innocent person.
The U.S. Department of Justice found that victims experienced a combined average loss of $1,343. It all adds up. In 2014, the total amount identity theft victims lost was a staggering $15.4 billion.
It is not just the money that is spent that is a problem. People have their credit scores affected as new cards opened under their name and Social Security number are being run up and discarded leaving a fine upstanding citizen in a situation where they have terrible credit. This can take some time to repair. Imagine a credit agency contacting you and telling you that you owe a substantial amount of money. Money you have never seen or known about, but money that has been spent in your name. That’s a nightmare scenario.
To stay ahead of the thieves, always make sure you pay attention to these simple rules:
- Shred. Aside from trying to keep all your passwords secure, you should also shred all paper correspondence that may have any bank details or your name, address, zip code, or any utility bills. You should also shred credit offerings.
- Never give out your Social Security number unless you absolutely have to.
- Review your credit score regularly to make sure there are no drastic, unexpected changes.
Staying vigilant is the key to never getting your identity stolen or at the very least minimizing the risks associated with it.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.
Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC