Here are some statistics from a Javelin/Better Business Bureau Survey that put the risk of identity theft into perspective:
Most thieves still obtain personal information through traditional rather than electronic channels. In the cases where the method was known, 68.2% of information was obtained off-line versus only 11.6% obtained online.
Conventional methods such as through lost or stolen wallets, misappropriation by family and friends, and theft of paper mail are among the most common ways thieves gain access to information.
You may never be able to completely prevent your identity from being stolen, but here are some steps you can take to help protect yourself from becoming a victim.
- Review your credit report periodically. Check to make sure that all the information contained in it is correct, and be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity. www.creditkarma.com is a great resource that allows you to securely monitor your credit and actual credit score over time for free without negatively impacting your credit.
- You may get your credit report for free once a year. To do so, contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service online at www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228.
- If you need to correct any information or dispute any entries, contact the three national credit reporting agencies:
- To stop telephone calls from national telemarketers, list your telephone number with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry by calling (888) 382-1222 or registering online at www.donotcall.gov
- To remove your name from most national mailing and e-mailing lists, as well as most telemarketing lists, write the Direct Marketing Association at 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-6700, or register online at www.dmachoice.org
- To remove your name from marketing lists prepared by the three national consumer reporting agencies, call (888) 567-8688 or register online at www.optoutprescreen.com
Please contact your financial planner if you would like more information about proactive ways to mitigate potential identity theft.