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Posted on May 16, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

Approximately 15 million U.S. residents are impacted by identity theft each year. The financial losses are staggering––over $50 billion a year.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud. Your credit, privacy, and identity are all up for grabs. High-tech hackers and dumpster diving-thieves are all on the prowl for your personal information.

Am I At Risk?

How many times a day do you log into and stay logged into social media sites and search engines like Are your social media accounts private? Do you allow the apps on your digital devices to send you push notifications? Do you lock your smartphone? Do you remember to shred all your junk mail rather than throw it in the trash? Do you shop or bank online? So many things you do every day put you at risk for identity theft.

Low-Tech Identity Theft

Stealing wallets, trolling through trash and recycling, or stealing outgoing mail from residential mailboxes are all easy ways thieves can steal your personal information. To protect against this type of theft, it’s a good idea to keep your social security card and other important documents like birth certificates, insurance policies, and any other papers that contain your personal information locked in a safe deposit box. To be safe, always shred junk mail, bank and credit card statements, utility bills, letters from collection agencies, and other mail containing your personal information.

Email and phone phishing are other methods that identity thieves use. Never open or respond to an email from a sender you don’t know and don’t give your financial account numbers, account passwords or PINs, or social security number to someone who calls you. Reputable financial organizations will never contact you by email or phone to discuss financial matters.

High-Tech Identity Theft

High-tech identity theft falls on the more sophisticated end of the spectrum. Your personal information could be “hacked “ from credit and ATM cards by cyber thieves, as in the case of the massive data breach at Target in late 2013, when 110 million customers were affected. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about this; it’s up to the retailers to keep their information systems safe and up to date.

Medical records can also be stolen, but again it’s up to the doctor’s office, hospital, and insurance company to keep your information private and secure. Identity theft laws such as FACTA and HIPAA focus on record keeping, storage, and disposal. Large institutions typically dispose of their massive collections of personal data through document destruction companies. But smaller business might not be aware of these consumer protection laws or what they need to do to comply with them.

Protect What Matters Most

IdentityForce’s UltraSecure+Credit is a great way to help keep your identity safe. Your personal information will be monitored 24/7 and you’ll be notified immediately of any suspicious activity so you can act before any damage is done. If anything does happen, IdentityForce will be with you every step of the way helping you restore your identity.