According to the "Weather Channel", tornado season in the U.S. lasts from April through July, with May and June being the peak months. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and Experian's ProtectMyID wishes to alert the public to several potential identity theft-related situations that might arise from such a natural disaster. This information is based on previously observed criminal behavior in disaster situations.
If you’re home computer is like mine, it’s full of a million different things; from pictures, to audio/video files, to email and documents. Mine even has a half-finished book in it that I will complete someday. These files are important to me, and I would hate to lose them. But I tend to also gather files that I don’t need. Keeping these files around can increase my risk of identity theft as they have the personally identifiable information that thieves love to use to commit their crimes.
Spring Break is here and you may find yourself and family heading off to an amusement park. Being a Southern California resident, I have the chance to visit Disneyland often. The last time I was there, I noticed a disturbing trend. As I approached a favorite attraction, I couldn’t help but notice all of the strollers parked in their designated spot. What disturbed me was the number of bags, purses, and in one case, a wallet that was left in the stroller.
I walk the dog on a daily basis. In doing so, I’ve learned a lot about my neighborhood and one thing that surprised me is the number of people that still send mail through unlocked mailboxes. While I do pay most of my recurring bills online, there are bills that I pay via post. However, knowing that identity thieves look for easy ways to steal information, I don’t put outgoing mail in my mailbox and raise the little red flag anymore. That’s just sending a clear signal to a would-be thief.
As millions of Texans begin to recover from hearing the news that their personal information was exposed, Experian’s ProtectMyIDTM announced today an agreement with the State of Texas that will offer identity theft monitoring services at a substantially reduced fee to the 3.5 million consumers affected by the State of Texas data breach. Experian’s Irvine, Calif.-based ProtectMyID is a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution.
The purpose of this blog series is to educate people about the ways that identities are stolen.
Keep in mind, these stories are true (although I have omitted specific details for our members’ protection) and are described by our Identity Theft Resolution Agents. As you read these stories, think about ways that you can protect yourself from identity theft.
As tax time draws to a close, we have one more post about ways to protect your sensitive financial information. This one comes from a conversation I had with a friend and member of ProtectMyID™. The other day, we were talking about taxes and he was commenting about the good information he’s read on the blog and how he’s been extra careful with his tax preparation – where he stores his documents, making sure his tax preparer keeps his information secure, and more tips we provided in a previous post. However, he then proceeded to tell me how all of his efforts almost went out the window in two minutes.
I filed my taxes last weekend and thankfully, everything went well. I couldn’t resist asking my accountant if he’s ever seen anyone who had been surprised by the income numbers the IRS has for them. He said that sadly, yes. He has had clients who find out they have been victims of identity theft when filing taxes. He couldn’t go into specific details but told me that any accountant who has been working for a few years had seen a situation where someone else used the victim’s Social Security number (SSN) to get a job.
At ProtectMyID, we love hearing from our members. From time to time, I have the chance to speak with a member who gives me permission to share his or her story. Identity theft can happen to anyone by various methods. Our monthly Members' Corner will give you a chance to read how our members describe their experiences, in their own words. If you're a member and would like to contribute to this column, feel free to leave a comment and I'll be in touch.
April marks National Financial Literacy Month and, in today’s economy, now is definitely the time for you to pay close attention to your financial health. Now, more than ever, it is important to be smart with your income and protect your nest egg that you worked so hard to build. You can take control of securing your most valuable asset – your identity. Here are some suggestions to protect yourself: