The Federal Trade Commission reports that the #1 complaint category in 2011 was identity theft.
Debt collection was 2nd with 180,928 complaints, followed by scams regarding prizes/sweepstakes /lotteries, shop-at-home and catalog sales.
To lessen your chances of being an identity theft victim we recommend taking the following steps.
- Do not give your bank account, credit card or social security number to anyone unless you are absolutely positive who you are giving it to and for what purpose. Never give this information to someone who has called you out of the blue. Scammers often pretend to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information.
- Never throw mail that contains your credit card account number, bank account numbers or social security number directly in the trash without shredding it first. Unemployment check stubs in California have your social security number listed on it. Thieves will not take mercy on you because it is an “unemployment” check, they will still steal your identity, so shred it!
- Remove yourself from Credit Marketing Lists by calling 888-567-8688. If you are receiving offers of credit randomly from credit card companies you are on a list. These mailing lists are gold mines for identity thieves, who may steal them and apply for credit in your name. Removing yourself from these lists does not hurt your chances of applying for or getting credit.
- Never send credit card numbers by email. Look for clues about security on Web sites. At the point where you are asked to provide your financial or other sensitive information, the letters at the beginning of the address bar at the top of the screen should change from “http” to “https” or “shttp.”
- Review your credit report regularly to check for fraudulent activity. Federal law entitles all consumers to ask each of the three major credit bureaus for free copies of their reports once in every 12 months. Your free credit report can be obtained by calling 877-322-8228 or going to www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you are being harassed by scammers trying to steal your identity or debt collectors, please give my office, The Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman a call at (877) 449-8898