Four out of five victims have no idea how an identity thief obtained their personal information, but victims often find that someone they know has committed the crime
(Vocus) September 18, 2009
According to a Better Business Bureau report, approximately 10 million people had personal information stolen and fraudulently used to open credit accounts, make big-ticket purchases, borrow thousands of dollars from banks, or commit other types of identity crimes in 2008. That figure represents a 22 percent increase from the previous year.
Poor record retention is one of the reasons financial loss figures continue to climb. "Four out of five victims have no idea how an identity thief obtained their personal information, but victims often find that someone they know has committed the crime,” said Chris McCulloch, assistant vice president/senior fraud investigator at First Bank. “Roommates, hired help, and landlords all have access to your home, and it is possible for them to access your private information. Identity theft within families is also fairly common.”
Since stolen records and identity theft are becoming more prevalent, First Bank offers the following suggestions related to retaining bank records:
- Shred or tear up statements, checks, credit card solicitations, charge receipts, expired cards, and documents containing personal information.
- Use a scanner to scan, store, and organize documents on your computer.
- To prevent identify thieves from illegally intercepting mail, promptly pick up delivered mail and deposit outgoing mail at a postal mailbox or the post office.
- Cancel paper bills and statements if possible, and check statements and pay bills online.
It is important to memorize PIN numbers and never write them on cards or anywhere else they can be compromised. “Even in your own home, you should keep your personal information safe,” said McCulloch. “Don't keep Personal Identification Numbers (PIN's) near your ATM or debit cards, and don't keep your checkbook within view."
McCulloch also offers these tips:
- Keep only necessary information in your wallet or purse. If traveling, cancel unused cards or secure them in a safe place while you’re away.
- Make a list of ATM, debit card, credit card, and bank account numbers, as well as the customer service telephone numbers for each. Keep this list in a safe and secure place so you can easily notify the necessary companies in case you lose your wallet or purse. This will also mitigate the risk of fraud.
- Always keep receipts for card purchases or withdrawals. Never throw them in a public trash container where they could eventually be found.
First Bank is one of the largest privately owned banks in the country with over 10.3 billion in assets and 209 locations in Missouri, Illinois, California, Texas and Florida.
Lents & Associates
gseverin (at) lentsandassoc.com
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