Norwalk, CONN. (PRWEB) August 25, 2006
Identity theft is not just a crime perpetrated on strangers, reports AP9 Privacy Matters, a leading security membership program offered by Adaptive Marketing LLC; it’s also increasingly a crime inflicted upon friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members.
According to recent studies looking at the link between criminals and their victims, identity thieves are just as likely to target their friends, co-workers and even relatives as they are to target strangers. In some ways, this makes sense: A friend or acquaintance of yours probably has easier access to your identifying information than a total stranger might. Beyond that, this person may be counting on his or her relationship with you to avoid being arrested or prosecuted for stealing your identity (victims of identity theft are more reluctant to have the perpetrator punished when it’s a family member or close friend), reports AP9 Privacy Matters.
These “friendly” identity thieves are often driven by the same motives as unknown ID thieves: simple greed, an addiction that needs to be fed, disinterest in working for a living, or even perceived necessity or a desire for compensation. For instance, adult caregivers may justify the theft of a parent’s identity as an effort to purchase items needed to care for their parents, such as a car to drive the parent to and from medical appointments, or even a new wardrobe as “payback” for their efforts.
So what can you do to protect yourself from friends, family or acquaintances who may feel the urge to make off with your identity? AP9 Privacy Matters offers a few practical measures:
--Lock up your personal information. From Social Security cards and checkbooks to credit card and bank account statements, store all of your sensitive data in a locked filing cabinet, safe or safety deposit box. Be careful about sharing access to these documents; make sure you share it only with those people you truly trust.
--Lock down your computer. Password-protect any and all sensitive data -- especially financial information -- that you store on your PC. Your children may not be prone to stealing identities, but their friends might be.
--Treat your credit and debit cards like large sums of cash. Most folks wouldn’t hand over $400 to an acquaintance (at least, not without solid collateral). Credit and debit cards offer access to large amounts of money -- your money -- so protect them as you would cash. And for goodness sake, don’t share your PINs with anyone; that’s like leaving your front door open when you leave the house.
--Screen your help. From once-a-month cleaning services to your vacation housesitters/mail collectors, anyone who can access your home without supervision represents a potential threat. Just because your neighbor is “always home” doesn’t mean you can trust him to water your plants while you’re away. If need be, ask the post office (and any newspaper subscription service) to suspend their delivery when you’re traveling.
--Monitor your financial statements and credit reports regularly. Checking for unauthorized activity in these documents is one of the best ways to detect potential identity theft. You’re entitled to one free credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion every year, but more frequent monitoring of credit reports, bank statements and credit card accounts can help you catch ID thieves more quickly. The sooner you uncover suspicious activity, the sooner you can stop it.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes of the new millennium, and, unfortunately, it’s a get-rich-quick scheme that can appeal to even the people you love and trust. To be on the safe side, keep a close guard on all of your sensitive information, suggests AP9 Privacy Matters.
About AP9 Privacy Matters
AP9 Privacy Matters is a leading security and privacy membership program offered by Adaptive Marketing LLC. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., Adaptive Marketing is a category leader in both membership and loyalty programs, bringing value direct to consumers through an array of benefits in healthcare, discounts, security, personal property and personals. Members may access their benefits at PrivacyMatters.com. With broad online and offline distribution capabilities, Adaptive Marketing offers its corporate client partners effective tools to enhance market presence, strengthen customer affinity and generate additional value through programs such as AP9 Privacy Matters.