It takes an average of 220 days to discover identity theft in your accounts, and every three seconds, there is a new victim, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Even fake people can get credit. It’s called synthetic identity theft.
This means a thief steals bits and pieces of data, uses a real Social Security number and creates a fictitious identity and name for a “new” person.
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 85% of identity theft is now considered synthetic identity theft. Protect your confidential information!
It’s still profitable for thieves to target banks, retailers, and organizations, like health care providers, universities and entertainment companies. Even though these data collectors may have stepped up security, you should protect your own information and:
• Ask to use an identifier other than your Social Security number.
• Ask data collectors to shred discarded documents that contain your information, or take them.
• Monitor financial accounts for fraud.
• Use only secure websites when shopping online.
• Do not give permission to online sites (and limit the number) that store your credit card information.
• Check your credit reports regularly.
• Shred personal information, forms, statements, and receipts not needed.
• Update security software often for your computers and cell phones.
• Do not transmit sensitive data over an unsecure or public WiFi connection.
• Use strong passwords and change them often.
• If notified of a security breach that involves your information, change account numbers and passwords.
• Consider an identity theft monitoring service, which may be offered by your bank or credit union.