Has You Identity Been Stolen?

By Paul Winter

Has your identity been stolen? You're not sure? Well there are certain signs to look out for. If you have noticed any of the following, your identity may well be in danger.

1. Your bank and credit card statements show charges you don't remember making or are sure you didn't authorize. Make sure you use every card at least once a month so you receive regular statements, and check them against your card receipts.

2. There are checks missing from your check book.

3. Your new check book hasn't arrived in the mail.

4. You have a debt collection agency chasing you for a debt you have no recollection of incurring.

5. You have accounts on your credit report that you did not authorize.

6. Your billing statements do not arrive on time, or worse do not arrive at all.

7. You are no longer receiving any mail! Identity thieves often change people's addresses to re-route mail. If you are not receiving any mail, this may have happened to you.

8. You apply for credit and your application is turned down. When you investigate why, you find your financial position is not what you thought it to be.

9. Your wallet goes missing. You may get it back with everything seemingly intact (sometimes no money has been taken) but an identity thief may have stolen information from your credit and debit cards and be using that information fraudulently.

10. You have a feeling someone is going through your trash at night. Dumpster divers could be cruising your streets at night, going through your garbage, trying to locate personal information that you have carelessly thrown away without destroying properly.Make sure that any personal information is shredded before putting it in the dumpster.

The worst thing about identity theft, apart from the loss of time trying to get your identity back, is the fact that many thieves are well-known to the victim. Yes, your identity could be in danger from a close friend or relative.

People who know you may have access to your personal information, your financial details, your computer passwords and your PIN numbers. They know your patterns of movement, know personal information about you (such as your mother's maiden name) and may even be your house sitter when you go on vacation. You may be putting your identity at risk trusting those you are best acquainted with. That's a scary thought and perhaps one you don't want to investigate. However if you follow these simple steps, you can safeguard yourself from unscrupulous people who you know.

* Lock up your files at work when you are not using them.

* Install passwords on your computer.

* Don't share your PIN or passwords with anyone.

*Make sure you trust the person you ask to house-sit or collect your mail.

Keeping yourself safe from identity theft means keeping vigilant at home and at work. Watch out for the signs that could indicate you are at risk and keep all personal information to yourself.

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