When You’re Not You

Keeping your identity private

Funny, she looks nothing like you.

Doesn’t matter, she still managed to open an account, rent an apartment and get a new credit card in your name.

Unfortunately, over 9 million Americans have their identity stolen every year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  That’s ample reason to offer voluntary identity theft insurance to your employees. And good reason to educate them on how identity theft occurs in the first place.

Of course, there’s the old-fashioned, tried-and-true method of lifting your wallet or purse to get a driver’s license, credit card numbers, bank information or other important identification.  In case this occurs, all numbers and account contact information should be safely stored elsewhere to shut down account access as quickly as possible.  Also, write “Ask for ID” where your signature typically appears on a credit card.  Every store won’t follow through, but it’s still a smart safeguard.

Other possible methods of theft include:

  • Dumpster diving:  Poking through your trash or recycling for bills or other documents with personal information.  Filling out credit card request forms that you’ve received.  Shred all these things before you throw them away.
  • Skimming:  Using a special storage device to steal credit card numbers during a sale or when the thief is in close physical proximity.  Watch during every transaction for unusual behavior and consider purchase of a secure wallet that blocks scans.
  • Phishing: Unsolicited calls or spam email from fictional representatives of financial institutions or companies asking you to confirm or forward private information-often information the company should already know.  Never comply if you did not initiate contact.  If you believe it may be legitimate, confirm the request directly with the company.
  • Change of address:  Diverting billing statements to another location following submission of a false change of address form.  Be conscious of any missing bills that you regularly expect.  Contact the company to check the address they have on file.
  • Pre-texting:  Pretexters gain personal information by claiming to be researchers or other third party vendors.   They then use the basic facts you’ve provided to contact financial institutions or other businesses directly.  They may also sell your information to others.  Again, never reveal personal identity or financial information when you did not initiate contact.

As Dr. Seuss said, “”Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Be sure to do all you can to keep it that way.