Can You Pass My Identity Theft Test?

by Ron Haynes


According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crime categories, both internationally and domestically. Considering that a thief nets only about $1,500 in an average bank robbery, an identity thief can score many times that, sometimes into the tens of thousands. As an added bonus, there are no guns needed, no risk of being shot, and no worries about a dye pack exploding all over your bag of ill-gotten cash! Identity theft is a crook’s dream come true.

After doing some extensive research into how these vermin operate, I devised a little test to see how vulnerable someone really is. How do you score?

1. After receiving any pre-approved credit card offers in the mail, you simply toss them into the trash can without shredding them. (5 points)

2. You drop off your mail in any open, unlocked mailbox. (5 points)

invest, investor, investing, lending

3. You use your Social Security Number as a form of identification at work, at school, or on your driver’s license. (15 points)

4. You haven’t ordered a copy of your credit report for more than two years. (10 points)

5. You think it’s silly to believe that people actually go through trash in order to find information about your or anyone else. (5 points)

6. You carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet. (20 points)

7. You don’t examine every credit card statement, bank statement or billing statement before paying it. (10 points)

8. Your Social Security number or driver’s license number is pre-printed on your personal checks. (10 points)

9. You don’t shred bank statements, credit card statements, or other financial papers before tossing them in the trash. (10 points)

10. You willingly provide your Social Security number to anyone who asks — without asking why they need it and how your number will be secured. (10 points)

If you scored over 65 points, you’re at high risk for identity theft. If you scored between 35 and 60 points, your odds are somewhat reduced, though they may increase if you have good credit. Identity thieves love victims with good credit. If you scored between 0 and 30 points, congratulations. You apparently understand the dangers and are taking steps to protect yourself.

Here’s the biggest problem with identity theft

With most crimes, the perpetrator is innocent until proven guilty. With identity theft, the victim is guilty until proven innocent … and proving that innocence can become a costly, frustrating, heart-breaking, and maddening venture.

When my identity was stolen, I was just trying to live my life, working day by day, taking care of my own responsibilities. Then, an identity thief decided he was tired of working for a living and used my good credit (that I had built with hard work, tears, and sweat over many years) to live a high life.

But I was fortunate in that I discovered it early. Today, he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Heck, I can’t even pull it off sometimes because I’ve put so many safeguards on my credit report that it’s difficult to just open a simple savings account. Actually, I get a kick out of knowing that if *I* have a hard time, an identity stealing scumbag would probably just give up!

If I had just one thing to do over again, I would sign up for Equifax credit monitoring BEFORE my identity was stolen. I signed up for it afterward and view it as cheap insurance. Believe me, I never want to go through identity theft ever again.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 7 comments }

Nicki at Domestic Cents

I didn’t score too badly. Identity theft scares me though. I try to be over-protective of my purse too. My mom’s had hers stolen twice and her identity was stolen one of those times. It’s so sad how careful we have to be.

Admin

It really IS sad that people are too lazy to earn their own money and instead resort to stealing yours and mine.

tom

Wow, that is a great test for everyone to go over.

If I may add more,

1. Not opening email that claims your bank needs you to update your account info
2. Shopping online with trusted retailers
3. I would imagine using public computers for purchases or doing anything that involves entering personal info

Other things to watch for
1. Not leaving your wallet or documents alone, out in the open or even your car

Admin

Those are great additions. Thanks!

Beth

What kinds of safeguards have you put in place to make it difficult for potential thieves?

Love your website – it’s nice to know that there is still some common sense out there!

Admin

Hey Beth, thanks for asking a question and for your kind comments.

I monitor my credit through Equifax (highly recommended) and I have placed a credit freeze on my credit as well. No one can open an account with my SSN without answering a series of questions about where I already have credit, what I financed, through whom, and what my payments are/were.

I also refuse to give my SSN to anyone who just asks for it unless there is a very specific need — usually that relates only to taxes or to some sort of credit application (though I don’t apply for credit anywhere anymore).

Also, I don’t carry my SS card in my wallet, I shred anything related to a credit application that comes in the mail, I pay my bills through a secure site online (no checks), I regularly review my credit report (once per month), I go over every statement with a fine toothed comb, and when I do have to write a check, it only has my name and address pre-printed. Phone numbers have to be hand written! I review my banking information DAILY.

Rebecca S

Thank you — I passed your test with flying colors ~~

I would like to echo some of Toms additional points.

Don’t link to any site from an email— (avoid phishers) Type the url into the browser in order to access the site.

Trusted retailers — who’s trust worthy. Well any site that has EV SSL (presented by an extended green url bar) you can click on the company name a view its Certificate of Authenticity.

Using public computers AND using your computer in a public WiFi zone — They don’t call it a “hot spot” for nothing ; ) .

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