Identity Theft

Identity theft is still on the rise as criminals try to steal your hard earned credit. Yes, as a credit industry professional I bared witness to countless individuals who were careless and someone “became them”.  It’s kind of creepy, almost sci fi like.  “No really, Citibank, I didn’t rent a limo in NYC and a helicopter. Some little hacker brat stole my body, looked like me, sounded like me, and even had my DNA!”  Oh wait, that was my favorite show on Fox, Fringe. Ha ha ha.   Seriously, all joking aside, it is not a fun or a funny thing for anyone who is involved in an identity theft crime.   How would you like to start getting nasty collection calls for a credit card you never had? Oh wait, according to their records, you opened an account 3 months ago with a 10,000 credit line and 3 months ago stopped paying the bills.  And now you owe them $10,000.  You never did it,  … sure. They are really going to believe you. In the meantime, your credit score that was in the high 700’s now is sitting in the low 500’s. And while you are feeling helpless, because no one will believe you, your car insurance and other creditors now think you are a risk and start closing your credit lines, decreasing your credit limits, and increasing your insurance rates.  Your utilization goes up, and your credit score continues to go down. Yes, folks, this really does happen.  All because you weren’t careful with your credit.

 

 

So what can you do to be safe? Guard that social security number with your life! Lock it with Lifelock and put security freezes on all 3 of your credit reports. Refuse all those mail solicitations for credit card offers. Seriously, this is an easy way criminals get your information. Does your mailbox have a physical lock on it? If you have good/great credit, get an American Express card, who always backs you with fraudulent charges.  Plus, they have a feature where they email me anytime my card is used and I am not present, like online purchases.  I was a victim of identity theft, but “luckily” for me, I had precautionary measures in place.  A financial bank that I did business with had a storage server stolen which had my private information on it.

Other things you can do is limit your card usage to ONE card that you carry in your wallet.  You should not carry your debit card with you.  Use that one credit card and always monitor usage, payments and so on. Use a credit card that rewards you or pays you back.

As mom always said, “It is better to be safe than sorry.”  And when you get your identity stolen, you hear a lot of “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you.”