If you haven’t done so recently, you should invest a minor bit of time and effort into getting yourself a copy of your credit report. It is free once a year in most states, and you need to get a separate copy of it from each of the “big three” credit reporting bureaus, which are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Some creditors report to only one of them, some report to a couple of them, and some even report to all three of them. The key point is that the data maintained by each one is not necessarily the same, and in fact, is probably vastly different. |
Why is the data different? With the hundreds of millions of credit reports that these companies need to maintain, errors are almost inevitable. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that the MAJORITY of consumers have at least one or more inaccurate or erroneous piece of information in their credit report. The scary part is that, contrary to popular belief, the errors will NOT be corrected automatically. In fact, if you don’t alert the credit bureau of the errors, then the errors will be carried forward with your record, year after year.
Please be aware that while identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes of this century so far, it is not limited to just online activities. Granted, with the advent of the ease of shopping online and being able to purchase something at a great price with just a couple of mouse clicks is attractive for many, there are steps you should take to ensure that you have done everything responsible that you can do to avoid your information from getting into the wrong hands. One of the first places to start is to get yourself a copy of your credit report, and look especially for accounts that you are not aware of, which is the first sign that you may be a victim of identity theft.
Online identity theft is a serious crime that can clean out your life savings and leave you with a damaged credit history that may take years to repair. Unless you’re familiar with the person with whom you’re dealing, or are filling out an official form for a legitimate personal or business purpose, information such as a social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and other types of data that might have a bearing on your individuality should never be divulged. If you’ve ever used a credit card to order take-out food over the phone, you’re leaving yourself wide open to identity theft.
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act several years ago in an attempt to smooth out some problems in the credit reporting industry. The presence of this alert requires any creditor to verify the identity of the borrower prior to granting credit in his or her name.
When you travel, regardless of how you book your reservations, your personal information will still end up on the company’s computer and stored in their databases. Many companies, including some large major corporations, do not protect your personal data the way they should.
Many people ignore the importance of protecting their personal and financial information against identity theft until they become a victim of it. The amount of goods and services purchased with fraudulently obtained personal identity was more than $50 billion dollars last year.
If you purchase merchandise online frequently, you may want to use a separate credit card that you obtain just for that purpose. Always use ONLY that credit card. For the junk mail that you receive regularly saying you are approved for a new credit card or mortgage loan, don’t just simply throw it in the trash. Instead, invest in a shredder and take the time to shred those letters. Many cases of identity theft occur because the thief has gone “dumpster diving” to find those pre-approval letters, and opens an account in your name. Jon is a computer engineer who maintains web sites on a variety of topics based on his knowledge and experience. You can read more about protecting yourself against Identity Theft at his web site at Prevent Identity Theft.
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