Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. It has become common to hear that the personal information that you supply to retailers and other companies has been compromised. This has us all on the lookout for fraudulent charges on our credit or debit cards. We assume that the credit card companies will do all that they can to identify credit card fraud, but when it comes to ID theft, your existing accounts shouldn’t be your only concern. With a name and social security number, a criminal could open new accounts, or even assume your identity to apply for a job, marriage, or apartment. It would take much more than a friendly visit to the bank to clean those messes up. During tax season, we kept hearing how fake tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds were being filed. The fake returns would often take advantage of tax breaks to maximize the refund and be filed in the beginning of the season so the victim wouldn’t even know it happened until they tried to file their own return.
Identity thieves are not after just your bank account, you want to protect your identity or they can worm their way into all different parts of your life. Cleaning up the mess can be more than just an inconvenience, it can be an ordeal. The threat can come from data breaches, a supermarket or restaurant, a stolen wallet, or you can even be tricked into giving away personal information. You may be wondering “How can I protect my identity?” You can check your credit report regularly, limit the number of cards in your wallet, be very careful who you give information to, and consider identity theft protection services such as Identity Guard®. These services help protect against ID theft by monitoring your credit score and other information, then alerting you to changes. Early detection allows you to take action and can save you a headache later. Imagine not knowing your identity had been stolen until after you apply for the perfect apartment, only to find that your application was rejected and the apartment slips through your fingers while trying to get the situation resolved.
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