Identity theft is a particularly insidious type of crime, in that the criminal obtains the victim's personal information, and uses it to create fraudulent checking accounts, credit accounts, apply for loans, or even make retail purchases, all in the victim's name. In worst case scenarios, it can be years before the victim realizes this has occurred, and it can take a tremendous amount of time, effort, and resources to resolve.
Criminals can obtain personal data a number of ways. There are basic steps you can take to mitigate your risk.
- Proactively monitor your banking and credit accounts
- Shred all sensitive documents
- Immediately delete any e-mails/messages that appear unusual or suspicious
- Once a year, request the free copy of your credit report that you are legally entitled to from one of the national credit reporting agencies.