The National Foundation for Credit Counselors, which sponsors Protect Your Identity Week, has compiled a number of identity theft myths. To support their efforts, the Santa Fe Group Vendor Council Awareness and Education
Subcommittee has helped to clarify some common misinformation with regards to this increasingly common crime. We’ve already discussed
a few of these myths, and will continue to do so throughout this week.
Myth #5: Checking your credit report periodically or using a credit monitoring service is all you need to do to protect yourself from identity theft.
There are many useful and effective
credit monitoring services available. However, no monitoring service is 100% effective, and many do little to protect your identity. If you want to be vigilant about identity theft, you should check your credit report periodically, but you should also keep
accurate financial records, review your bank and credit card statements frequently for unauthorized charges, and follow the
FTC’s tips for minimizing your risk.
You can obtain one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus from
AnnualCreditReport.com. Many consumer groups suggest that you stagger your free reports throughout the year, rather than ordering all three at once.
The FTC offers
facts for consumers regarding
identity theft protection services, which take additional steps beyond the level of protection offered by credit monitoring services.
The FDIC offers
tips for safe Internet banking.
Myth #6: My personal contact information (mailing address, telephone number, email address, etc.) is not valuable to an identity thief.
Any information that could be used by a thief to impersonate you should be protected. For example, many people use their email address as a user ID for online accounts. Consider making your information available on a need-to-know basis only. Often, businesses
ask for personal information they really don’t need, and will simply omit information you’re not willing to give.
The U.S. Department of Justice answers the question,
“What should I do to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft?”
Myth #7: Shredding my mail and other personal documents will keep me safe.
Shredding documents that contain personal information before you throw them away is a great way to protect yourself from “dumpster diving,” which occurs when thieves search the trash for personal information. But relying on your shredder alone to protect
you is like locking one window while leaving the rest of your house wide open. Think defensively: secure your personal information in your home, your car, and at work, and always use safe online security practices.
Get Safe Online offers
tips on safe social networking.
The FTC answers the question,
“How do thieves steal an identity?”
Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses
data theft on Fox News.