Posted September 6, 2013 by Sean Blackmore in Finance

Protecting yourself from the ‘invisible’ crime of identity theft

Identity theft: It&rsquos the subject of articles everywhere you turn. That&rsquos simply because the problem has exploded in current years, as new methods for collecting, storing, sharing – and stealing – your individual details have developed.

&ldquoIdentity theft is an increasingly pervasive difficulty, particularly in right now&rsquos digital economy,&rdquo says Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax.

Identity theft topped the list of national consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012, for the 13th consecutive year. It accounts for 18 percent of all complaints, up from 15 percent in 2011.

Identity theft can involve taking over your credit account, stealing your tax refund, taking out loans in your name, accessing personal bank accounts or even operating up healthcare bills employing your name. You may possibly not notice these crimes until they&rsquore carried out, which can mean you&rsquoll have months of inconvenience and time spent correcting the problem, in addition to the monetary price.

You could be much more vulnerable than you realize. Widespread opportunities for identity theft contain:

* Collecting individual information you&rsquove shared over unsecured internet sites

* Completing alter-of-address forms to redirect your mail

* Going by means of your mail or trash to uncover credit provides, bank and credit card statements, or healthcare records

* Stealing personal details you&rsquore carrying if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen

* Stealing your mobile device

You could turn around and discover undesirable checks, loans or credit card bills that are suddenly your responsibility. Your savings account could be wiped out and your credit ruined.

Even youngsters are vulnerable because of their clean credit histories.

Equifax not too long ago launched a web site, IdentityProtection.com, that offers shoppers with details on identity theft and how to support defend themselves. &ldquoConsumers who are armed with valuable understanding and tools can be a effective deterrent to the fast growth of this &lsquoinvisible&rsquo crime,&rdquo Loughran says.

The identity theft specialists at Equifax supply some guidance:

* When you sign up for a catalog or add your name to a mailing list, contemplate if the benefit is worth sharing your private information with someone who could potentially sell it.

* If you sign up for e-mail coupons or loyalty applications, don&rsquot share your complete address or any financial data.

* Make sure your passwords utilised for on the internet banking and shopping web sites are robust and distinctive use a diverse password for each and every web site. Mark your calendar to alter your passwords each and every 90 days.

* Request that your medical and insurance coverage providers assign you a distinctive individual identification number. Don&rsquot reveal healthcare or insurance details by telephone or e-mail unless you made the first make contact with. File paper and electronic copies of your records in a safe location, and shred any outdated healthcare documents, including old prescription labels.

* If your passport has been lost or stolen, avoid an individual from ordering a new 1 in your name by contacting the U.S. State Division&rsquos Passport Solutions Department.

* Remember &ndash the IRS doesn&rsquot speak to taxpayers through e mail, text message or social media. If you get a message from a sender that is identified as the IRS, don&rsquot respond or click on any links. Forward the e mail to [email protected]

Don&rsquot wait till you or your family turn into victims of identity theft. The a lot more you know about this problem and how to aid shield your self, the safer you&rsquoll be.

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Sean Blackmore