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Monthly Parents Magazine Article - "Avoiding Fraud and Identity Theft" - Saturday, September 1, 2012

Avoiding Fraud and ID Theft

Identity theft is rampant and over 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year.  Knowing how to prevent your personal information from being stolen is the most important step in stopping the problem and keeping your good name in tact.

Why do thieves want your ID?
Your personal information is vital for identity theft; this includes your name, social security number, bank account and credit information.  When crooks get this information they can open new accounts, rent an apartment, establish utility services and obtain driver’s licenses.  The worst part is that you may not find out until you get a call from a collection company or learn that the thief has gotten in legal trouble under your name!

How do thieves get your ID?
One of the most common ways to steal another person’s information is to "Dumpster Dive” or dig information out of the garbage. Other tactics include "Skimming” which uses a storage device to record credit card numbers and "Phishing” where people pretend to be a legitimate company with whom you do business and they either call or send emails to get you to disclose your personal information.  Also thieves may pretend that they are you and contact places where you do business to gather information (like your bank or telephone company) under "Pretexting.”  Finally, there is always "Theft” when someone breaks into your house or steals your backpack, wallet, purse or information out of your mailbox.

Protect yourself!
Check your credit report every quarter for accounts that aren’t yours, shred papers with your valuable information on it, avoid carrying your checkbook on you, don’t open email from people you don’t know, and do not disclose information about your personal accounts to strangers on the phone.  If someone is requesting this information, hang up and call the company back on a number that you know is registered to them before proceeding. 

What to do if your ID is stolen:
File a police report, check your credit reports, notify your financial institution and creditors, and dispute any inaccurate information on your credit history.  Find more identity theft information and assistance at the Federal Trade Commission’s website at

Keeping track:
Monitor your credit report at least quarterly; by pulling one of the three free reports every 4 months, you can monitor your credit for free.  Visit for your free copy.  Neighbors offers ID Secure to help you monitor your credit report and more, call or visit us for more information on keeping your identity safe.