You may be wondering how do I stop identity theft? This is a reasonable question as 9 million Americans will fall victim to this ever increasing problem in 2009 alone. That’s up from 4 million as recently as 2003.
The U.S. Department of Justice has come up with a four step process to help you stop identity theft. It’s summarized with a catchy acronym: SCAM.
“S” stands for “Stingy.” Don’t give out your information to anyone unless you have a very good reason to do so. Never give out personal financial information to someone who initiates the phone call themselves. The best thing to do is implement a “need to know” policy.
“C” stands for “Check” as in check your financial information regularly. Your bank and credit card statements are a first line of defense in protecting yourself against fraud.
“A” stands for “Ask” – for your credit report. You get one free copy of each of the three major bureau’s reports. Spread them out so that you get one every four months or so. This way you can tell if there is major financial activity that you may not be aware of.
“M” stands for “Maintain.” Keep good bank records. That way, if anything ever does happen, you have a paper trail to prove your innocence.
To all of these things, I would add a “P” – Protect yourself with a Identity Theft Protection Service. These companies monitor all of the relevant fraud centers and help you fix things if anything ever does go wrong.