Identity Theft… Are You At Risk?

Remember when you were little and it was fun to pretend to be someone else traveling to far away places, and experiencing adventure you never thought possible. There are people today that continue to play the game and they imagine that they’re you!

Identity Theft goes beyond the normal purse snatching and pick pocketing. The Internet, on-line shopping, electronic medical records, and multiple electronic databases for credit card companies all present opportunities for someone to tap into your information. Phone scams and door-to-door predators who particularly target the elderly are on the rise.

According to Steve Zinger, Regional Investigations Manager at Huntington Bank, many fall prey to unsolicited mobile media (text messaging) and work from home scams that issue fraudulent checks or establish new account relationships in your name. He offers this advice, “if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Zinger states, if you receive an unsolicited call or e-mail from your bank requesting information over the phone – it’s very likely a scam. Huntington’s website offers “10 Tips for Accessing Your Accounts Safely On Line” under its Identity Protection area of its website

Theresa Goeller, a Pre-Paid Legal Associate, states, “Identity Theft Shield is an affordable solution to combat a growing crime that knows no boundaries. Because of increasing identity theft in children, the Identity Theft Shield program recently added child ID theft protection for children under the age of 18.

Steps you can take to prevent others from targeting your information.

 Purchase and use a shredder to destroy financial documents, credit card solicitations and other information sent to you with your name and address tied to it. This prevents dumpster diving from would be predators.

 Don’t carry our social security card with you. Put it in a safe place and if you need to give it out verbally for someone to verify the account – ask that they give you the piece of paper they’ve written your number on.

 Never click on links sent through unsolicited e-mail. Predators will send email messages that look like they are from your bank, asking you to visit a web site that looks like the bank’s in order to confirm account information. This is called “phishing.”

 Don’t provide personal information to unsolicited phone calls.

 Be alert when using an ATM that someone nearby is not capturing your numbers.

 Create passwords for your accounts that include a string of lower and upper case letters, numbers and/or symbols.

Be vigilant and monitor your credit report at least annually.
Individuals are entitled to one free credit report per year. You can request your free report online, by phone or by mail. Visit, call 1-877-322-8228, or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

If you notice regular monthly bills not arriving on time, are denied credit, or charged a higher rate when you know you have good credit, these could all be signs that someone has stolen your identity.
What do you do if you’re your identity is stolen?

 File a police report – it legitimizes your claim to the credit card companies.

 Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name.

 Notify the Social Security fraud line number. The alert will notify any company that checks your credit to know your information was stolen. By doing this, the company will have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. The numbers are below – keep a copy of this in your wallet, in a safe place at home, and one in your desk.

• Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
• Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
• Trans Union: 1-800-680 7289
• Social Security (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

How can you reduce your personal exposure?

According to you may:

 Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Call 888-5OPTOUT or go online to This will limit the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive.

 Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. Your name is added to name deletion lists used by nationwide marketers. You may also need to register for your state’s “do not call” list, if it has one. National Do Not Call Registry,, (888) 382-1222

 Opt-out of the sale or sharing of your financial information when given the opportunity by your bank, credit card companies, insurance companies, and investment firms.

Be aware of the personal information you provide others. Be alert to changes in routine with bills and bank statements. Be assertive when asked for information you don’t feel necessary for someone else to have. You are the best advocate for protecting your identity.

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