Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing types of financial fraud. Using a variety of methods, criminals steal credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, ATM cards and other key pieces of individuals’ identities. They use this information to impersonate their victims, spending as much money as they can in as short a time as possible before moving on to someone else’s name and account information.  To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. For starters, just remember the word “SCAM“:

S     Be stingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them.  Start by adopting a “need to know” approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when YOU call to inquire about your account. However, if you RECEIVE a call from any person who claims to be from your bank or another financial institution, you should not release that information.  Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks — such as your Social Security number or home telephone number — the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who may not need that information.

C    Check your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t.  If you have bank or credit card accounts, you should be receiving monthly statements that list transactions for the most recent month or reporting period. If you’re not receiving monthly statements for the accounts you know you have, call the financial institution or credit card company immediately and ask about it.

A    Ask for a copy of your credit report annually. Your credit report should list all bank and financial accounts under your name, and will provide other indications of whether someone has wrongfully opened or used any accounts in your name.

M    Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.   Shred all personal and financial information such as bills, bank statements, ATM receipts, and credit card offers before you discard them.  Avoid leaving envelopes containing your credit card payments or checks in your home mailbox for postal carrier pickup.  Take receipts at ATMs, bank counters, or unattended gasoline pumps with you.



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2 Responses to “Identity Theft”

  1. […] are the best ways to protect yourself from different types of identity theft this holiday […]

  2. […] Identity theft and fraud remain problems everywhere, and Maine is no different. […]

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