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Are You Making These Mistakes That Made One Identity Thief Rich?

May 10, 2008
Have you ever thought about what police officers do to protect themselves from identity theft? I wondered this myself. I am now about to reveal to you exactly what they told me "off the record".

According to the U.S. Postal Service, there were almost 12 million incidents of identity theft in the United States in 2006 at a cost of 6.3 billion to consumers. This alarming statistic has increased the alert level of many consumers; however most are still unaware of the specific tactics these identity thieves use. After an extensive interview, one notorious identity thief, revealed 4 misconceptions she used to separate you from your money.

Misconception # 1 All Identity Thieves Are Men This is a common misconception that our identity thief says makes her job so much easier. The problem is that most of the major media outlets portray identity thieves as men. The reality is that many of these criminals are well dressed attractive women. To avoid falling into a trap, watch your personal information with both men and women. Studies have shown that both men and women let their guards down around women more so than they do around men. Everyone is a potential identity thief. This does not mean you should be paranoid rather you should simply be very careful.

Misconception # 2 Relaxing Your Guard While Shopping or Eating Out This one is hard to overcome because in our society, we have grown use to not carry cash. It's simple and easy to hand over our credit or debit card to a waitress or cashiers to pay our bills. The problem is regardless of where you are or how nice the neighborhood is, you have just handed your personal information to a total stranger. You totally trust this person to only use that information for this transaction. What you don't know is that it is so very easy to steal your credit card information, store it on another card, and have it back to you in less than a few moments and you'll never know until you get the bill. To combat this, regularly look at your statements and begin to keep a daily spending journal and immediately respond to any discrepancies.

An example would be $50 this way when your statement comes in the mail, you will quickly notice any anomalies. Think about this. How long does a person have to work at a store or restaurant before they'd have access to hundreds of customers' personal data? Hint: Not long at all. According to our identity thief, most people like her take these jobs for a few months and after they have your data, they "take an early retirement".

Misconception # 3 Throwing Your Unopened Mail Away Here is a fact that you don't need much research to prove. In a month's time, you are likely to get between 12 to 60 credit offers by mail. Most people throw these offers out with the envelopes unopened. More credit savvy people shred their offers and then throw them out. The problem with the first idea is this, what happens when you take your trash out? Yes, you go back into the house or you get in your car and go to work. Who do you think knows your routine better than you do? That's right, our friendly neighborhood identity thief. Now for my shredders out there, good job on shredding the offers but that still is not enough. These days, my crooks are finding ways to piece these documents back together because most home shredders only cut one way.

Always remember that one man's trash is another man's treasure. These crooks do not play fair. Consider this, you can spend a few minutes taking these precautions or you can spend a few months and in some cases years fighting to restore your credit and your good name.

Idea: You might also try running water over your personal mail before you trash it so that it becomes totally unreadable to potential thieves. Why would a thief waste time with your wet smudged mail when your neighbor's mail is so much easier for them to steal?

Misconception # 4 Sending or Receiving Mail from at Your Home By now you are beginning to see the point. Identity thieves commit their crimes in several ways. They steal credit card payments and other outgoing mail from private or curbside mailboxes. In fact, according to our expert, some will go a step further and file a change of address form in the victim's name to divert mail and gather personal and financial data.

Another way to do this is by opening a post office box. For many this is a necessity because they do not arrive home in time to collect the mail as soon as it is delivered. If you give a crook access to your mail, it becomes a simple process of updating your address to theirs. Once done, you've lost a lot more than you think.

These are just a few of the ideas that I learned to help me stay clear of trouble. The reality is that there are so many more things to be done to fully protect you. Unfortunately, very few people can protect themselves without assistance. I discovered the hard way that going at it alone is simply ineffective. Wouldn't it be nice to have a proven and trust guide who has been on the front lines? The good news is that there are now many companies that offer solutions for those of us who want to protect our family's good name.

However, before you join a credit monitoring service of some type, make sure that they have the stamp of approval from consumers and police officers alike.
About the Author
Want to know what law enforcement officials use to protect their identities? Protect yourself and your family with www.lifelock.com . For a limited time, you may use this lifelock discount .
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