A Damaging Crime
One of the most heartbreaking of property crimes is the current wave of thefts of identity. This crime is humiliating and emotionally devastating to the victim and his or her family. Besides that, it is also enormously costly to the victim's family and reputation.
Identity thieves are taking a free ride on the good name and reputation of others. These criminals obtain personal information and then essentially impersonate their victims as they open credit card accounts, make purchases, or take out loans.
It can take a while for the victim to know that he or she has been wronged and even longer to sort out and clean up the damage. In the meantime, the innocent party may be denied financial and employment opportunities.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
While there is no way to have complete protection against identity theft, here are a half dozen common sense measures that can decrease the odds of becoming a victim:
- Jealously guard personal information, like your Social Security Number, account numbers, and passwords, and divulge them only in a communication that you initiate. Use this information sparingly online and only if it will be encrypted.
- Keep your wallet from becoming a goldmine for potential thieves by carrying the minimum in checks, credit cards, and other bank items. Do not keep your Social Security Number in your wallet.
- Retrieve your mail promptly and do not leave outgoing mail in your doorway or in your home mailbox.
- Tear up private papers like bank statements, receipts, and credit card applications, before throwing them away. Or, even better, get yourself a shredder. It's not just archaeologists who sift through old garbage in search of valuable information.
- Store valuable financial information at home in a place that is not available to prying eyes.
- Review bank accounts and credit card records regularly, as well as your own credit report that's prepared by a credit bureau, so that you can pick up on the first signs of trouble, such as a missing payment that is reported or an unauthorized withdrawal.
Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney with over 42 years of experience as a lawyer. He can help you plan for the future by creating a Minnesota Estate Plan. For more information, please visit http://www.mnestateplan.com or call toll free at 952-641-7312.
The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.