Yesterday's post discussed the results of the latest identity theft and identity fraud survey in the USA by Javelin Research. In it's report, Javelin recommended the following for consumers to detect identity theft and identity fraud:
- Monitor your bank and credit card account activity regularly. Check the activity online, via phone, or via ATM machine
- Use e-mail or telephone alerts to monitor activity on your accounts. Activity can include deposits, withdrawals, balance transfers, specific charges, address changes, new names added to your accounts
- Javelin emphasizes that the longer it takes a consumer to detect fraud, the greater the amount stolen
Javelin recommends the following for consumers to resolve identity theft and identity fraud:
- Contact your bank or credit card company immediately
- Close any accounts that have been compromised
- Ask your financial provider about fraud resolution teams or services to help you fix your credit and recover any money lost
- Place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports at all three credit bureaus
- Know the data breach notification rights in your state. When an employer or prior employer loses your personal data (or it is stolen), in many states that company is required by law to notify you of that loss/theft. Other rights, such as free credit monitoring services, may also be available to you in your state
- Consider placing a Security Freeze on your credit reports at all three credit bureaus. this will prevent criminals from opening new accounts and obtaining credit in your name. Some states require a Security Freeze to be free to identity theft victims
- File a report with the local police
- Notify the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC tracks complaints and identity theft activity
- Consider signing up for a credit monitoring service, which can help you monitor your credit reports at the three credit bureaus
While all of the above items are solid and valuable recommendations, they focus on financial identity fraud. Unfortunately, there are so many ways criminals can abuse stolen personal data. They can use it to commit medical identity fraud, insurance identity fraud, criminal identity fraud, obtain a fraudulent driver's license, or apply fraudulently for a job, and none of these activities will show up on your credit report.
If that sounds awfully scary, it is. And it should scare you. This is the current state of U.S. business and government systems. A good first step would be to write to your elected officials and ask them what they plan to do about it.