(7/6/2010) U.S. Department of Justice data show that identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in America, and studies show that the 18- to 29-year-old age bracket accounts for 30% of all identity-theft complaints.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, Social Security number (SSN), or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes and to get credit in your name.
Identity thieves are clever and can obtain a victim's personal information in many ways:
No one can totally eliminate the risk of identity theft. Think of your SSN, financial account numbers, and passwords as the Holy Grail — sacred and powerful.
You can reduce your chances of becoming a victim:
- Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet unless you need it that day.
- Avoid using public computers to access financial accounts, and use intricate passwords.
- Limit personal information online.
- Shred any paperwork that contains nonpublic information.
- If you access financial accounts or shop online, make sure the Web site is secure. Secure sites have an "s" after the http—https://.
- Check your credit report regularly at annualcreditreport.com and monitor your transactions. Reconcile your accounts regularly.
- Keep an inventory of everything in your wallet and your PDA.
Copyright 2010 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. All other rights reserved.