Many people don’t realize that the biggest problem with identity theft is not usually liability for the fraudulently incurred debt. Victims of identity theft seldom are saddled with any significant debt as a result of the fraud. The credit card companies and other businesses who deal with the perpetrators usually eat most or all of these losses.
In the meantime, however, the victim’s credit report often ends up in shambles. This can be very difficult to clean up. If you want to see for yourself just how difficult, here are some tips:
1. Don’t shred or tear up your financial documents – just throw them in the trash.
2. Fail to get your mail regularly and promptly – instead, let your mail build up and sit in your mailbox for days.
3. Don’t keep track of expected mail, like checks, credit cards and even bills, and don’t do anything if they haven’t arrived in a reasonable time.
4. Don’t regularly monitor your credit report; in fact, don’t check it at all.
5. Give out your personal information to anyone who asks for it, especially if they initiate the contact with you.
6. Leave personal information out in your home for your relatives, roommates, or service people to see.
7. Choose easy to remember passwords, PINS and codes, utilizing such things as 1234, your birth date, phone number, address, or the last four digits of your social security number — or better yet, keep them in your wallet or taped to your cards for easy reference.
If you DON’T do these things, there’s still no guarantee that you won’t be a victim of identity theft. Sometimes you can do everything right and still get burned just because you were unlucky or someone else wasn’t careful with your information. But by not doing these things, you can at least significantly reduce your risk of being an identity theft victim. If you think you are a victim of identity theft, click here for more information on what to do about it.