May 31, 2013|
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Nowhere is this idiom more true than when it is applied to the issue of identity theft. The 2013 Identity Fraud Report released in February 2013 by Javelin Strategy & Research reports that identity fraud increased by more than one million cases in 2012 from 2011, with fraudsters stealing more than $21 billion dollars. These numbers are the highest seen since 2009 and indicate that there is a fraud victim every three seconds. Rebuilding your identity and reestablishing your good name may be one of the worst aspects of this crime. The time and energy that you must expend to restore your credit and financial standings can be extreme. Here are some preventative measures we urge you to utilize to protect yourself from being taken advantage of in the first place. • Watch credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) as well as credit card statements and bank statements to catch suspicious activity early. • Don't give out Social Security Numbers (SSN) just because you're asked for it. Often it is not necessary information and dissemination of your SSN is risky. • Shred any documents or mail that have identifying numbers on them such as bank account information, SSNs, credit card information, birthdates, etc. • Protect personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam or anti-virus software, updating security patches, and regularly changing passwords for internet accounts with sensitive information such as online banking sites and credit card sites. • Secure copies of tax returns, Social Security cards, and other important documents in a locked file. While these steps certainly can't guarantee that you won't fall victim to fraudulent activity, it will put you in a much better position to prevent what you can and catch what you can't quickly, so you can react swiftly. For more information, please contact your Faw Casson advisor today or ask either of our Certified Fraud Examiners, Kimberly Fonda or Laurie Harper.