Latest identity theft articles

4 Steps To Protect Teens from Identity Theft

Posted on 2015-03-18 09:00:44

Forget about homeworkNo one is immune to becoming an identity theft victim—not even teenagers. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reports a growing trend in identity theft victims under the age of 18. Teens may be targeted for identity theft because they usually have a clean credit record, and they are less likely to monitor their credit. That alone gives identity thieves a large window of opportunity. The crime may go on for years, discovered only when a young adult applies for credit or a student loan. Sadly, the identity thief may be someone related to the child. It may be a parent who is struggling financially and sees a clean slate by using his or her child’s Social Security number or personal information. Children are often reluctant to report the crime when the perpetrator is a relative—especially when it’s Mom or Dad. Another characteristic of teens that increases their vulnerability to become identity theft victims is their trusting nature. Teens are still figuring out life. One study reports that over one third of teens surveyed admit to sharing at least one username and password with someone other than their parents. This risky behavior can lead to identity theft and other crimes. Friends come and go. A friend today may be an ex-friend tomorrow.

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Teens, here are 4 steps that will help protect you from identity theft. 1. Shred. Shred. Shred. Don’t just toss documents with personal information; shred them. This includes credit card offers which contain enough information for someone else to establish credit in your name. 2. Limit sharing on social media sites. Don’t make your birth date public. Never reveal your address or phone number. You may be proud of getting your driver’s license, but don’t post a picture of it online. Assume that anything posted may fall into the hands of a stranger, and that stranger could be an identity thief. 3. Guard your Social Security number. Identity thieves have hit the jackpot when they score a Social Security number. Don’t make it easy on them. Ask “Why?” before giving your Social Security number to anyone—even schools. You may find it really isn’t needed. Also, don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. 4. Be careful when using unsecured WiFi in public places. It may be convenient to catch up on things while enjoying a latte friends, but your information may be intercepted. Handle personal business at home with a secure network.
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Identity Thieves Love Tax Season

Posted on 2015-02-19 08:00:52

Identity theft tax refund fraud is a growing epidemic with serious consequences. It now accounts for nearly half of all identity theft complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission. You become a victim of identity theft tax refund fraud when someone uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, to file a fraudulent tax return in your name, claiming a tax refund. Confused-Woman Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy for anyone to file a fraudulent tax return with just a Social Security number. The IRS is in a constant battle to stay one step ahead of thieves who see tax fraud as easy money. Because it is so easy, it’s a crime that attracts drug dealers, gangs, prisoners and others who play it like a lottery. They may file 9 returns that get detected, but hit the jackpot with the 10th one. With e-filing, it’s easy to automate the process. By using bank accounts that are opened and closed with ease, it’s fairly easy to stay one step ahead of the law.

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The Consequences If an identity thief beats you to filing your tax return, your first clue may be receiving a letter from the IRS telling you that a return has already been filed. The nightmare has just begun. Your real return will have to be filed manually. You will eventually get the refund you are due, but it will take longer—much longer. It typically takes the IRS 312 days to resolve tax-related fraud cases. The nightmare may not end with your tax return. Your personal information may also be used to commit other types of identity theft such as obtaining credit in your name, taking out a mortgage, getting health insurance or a job, or even declaring bankruptcy. Your credit score can tank overnight. Precautionary Steps It is worth taking precautionary steps to reduce your risk of becoming an identity theft tax fraud victim. File early. Tax thieves know they have to file before you do. Don’t procrastinate. Bite the bullet and file your tax return early. File smart. If you mail your tax return, deliver it to a post office. Never leave a tax return in your mailbox for pickup by a mail carrier. If you file electronically, be sure to use a secured network. Don’t file from a public network such as a coffee shop. Be alert to scams. Don’t fall for fake communications from the IRS. The IRS will not email you asking for personal information.
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5 Tips To Help Seniors Avoid Identity Theft

Posted on 2015-01-29 08:00:27

While identity theft continues to be a growing problem for everyone, seniors, in particular, are prime targets. Identity thieves look for the easiest targets, and they often find that in seniors. Senior woman writing in notebook There are several reasons why senior make good identity theft targets. Seniors have spent a lifetime building their credit and retirement savings. They likely have more available credit and savings. Seniors also tend to be more trusting and less likely to report identity theft for fear that family members will think they are no longer capable of handling their own affairs. Seniors are less likely to keep tabs on their credit reports than younger generations since they may be past their days of needing new credit. As seniors age, they may require help from strangers who are not always trustworthy. Older seniors are easier to scare into giving up personal information to someone on the phone. Here are some tips to help seniors avoid becoming identity theft victims.

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1. Protect Your Medicare card. If your Medicare card has your complete Social Security number on it, block out all but the last four digits. Never give Medicare information to someone by phone or in response to an email. 2. Don’t carry your Social Security card. Social Security cards are like gold to identity thieves. Social Security numbers often open the door to more information about you—information you do not want to fall into the wrong hands. 3. Shred, shred, shred. Anything with personal information should be shredded before it is discarded. Identity thieves still sift through trash looking for personal information to help them create a new identity. 4. Be skeptical of offers that appear too good to be true. If an offer sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Request information in writing, and read the details carefully. Many of these offers are set up for no other reason than to obtain personal details from gullible people. 5. Keep tabs on your credit report. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t in the market for new credit. The fact is identity theft is often first detected on someone’s credit report. A credit monitoring service is an affordable way to be alerted to potentially fraudulent information on your credit report.

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