Protect Yourself from Identity Theft & Fraud

In today’s “new” information age, you should check your credit score on-line every January (at a minimum) to get a snapshot of your score and reporting data, as well as to make sure you are not being ripped off.

The recent major hack into retail giant Target where thieves stole credit and debit card data from 40 million accounts may provide you some motivation to keep tabs on your own information.  Consider that all thieves need to impersonate you is your date of birth and Social Security number, the first which many people have right on their Face Book page.  With the increase in technology and devices over the past decade has come an increase in identity theft and fraud.

Many times thieves can get your social security number from people and organizations you personally affiliate with such as a college, sports league, synagogue, church, club, utility, cell-phone company, landlord, property manager, hospital, medical office or insurer you may be working with.  In order to protect yourself, actually question every business or organization up front  – and ask them if it is required (or optional) for you to submit your 9 digits. When surfing the web, make sure the websites you are visiting are secure and take every precaution when you input your PINs, passwords and account numbers.   

No matter how crooks get your data, the aggravation they will add to your life may take you months and possibly thousands of dollars to resolve.  In 2010, 8.6 million U.S. households were touched by identity theft and lost $13.3 billion as a result, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey. 

  You can check your credit report regularly at annualcreditreport.com.  Since you can get your credit score for free from the three major agencies, consider to get one free report (every four months) from a different agency in order to monitor your own credit throughout the year. 

 Consider that a bad credit score with outstanding payments could essentially wreak havoc on your financial life.  Your credit score (and credit report) can affect everything nowadays, even when applying for a new job. Consider that an ounce of prevention could be worth a pound of cure when staying on top of your personal identifiable information and credit score.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.