If it can happen to Ben, it can happen to you....

By
Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572

If you leave a comment, Jim will visit your blog and comment.I thought it was interesting that a story in the paper was about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his wife were the victims of identity theft recently.

Anna Bernanke's purse was stolen at a Capitol Hill Starbucks in August 2008. In her purse was her Social Security card, checkbook, credit cards, and identification cards.

Maybe it's different for women or power figures, but I certainly don't carry my Social Security card around. Nor my checkbook for that matter. I haven't written a check in years. My credit cards, debit cards, and online accounts took the place of checks.

One person has already been convicted in what apparently was a massive identity theft ring that involved $2.1 million and ten financial institutions.

Identify theft is the fastest-growing crime in America. Here are some tips to help you keep from becoming a victim:

  1. Keep your Social Security card at home. Surely by now you have the number memorized.
  2. If you dispose of a personal computer, erase the data from the hard drive, which requires more than using the delete key on the computer. If you don't know how to do it, hire someone to make sure that none of your personal information is leaving your home on the computer.
  3. Make it hard for computer hackers to follow you. Don't check the "Remember me" box whenever you visit a web site or enter user IDs, passwords, and other personal infromation.
  4. Make sure you know exactly what is in your wallet. Make photocopies of everything, and if you don't need something because you use it rarely, remove it and put it in a safe place at home.
  5. Check your credit reports regularly. Since you are entitled to a free report each year from each of the three credit agencies -- Experian, TransUnion, and EquiFax -- order from one company every four months, i.e., Experian in April, TransUnion in August, and EquiFax in December. That way you'll know what's going on every four months at no cost to you.
  6. Buy a cross-shredder for your home and destroy statements and other personal information from banks, gas companies, department stores, etc., before throwing it in the trash.
  7. Remove your name from the marketing lists of the credit reporting bureaus to reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive. The more offers you receive, the more people who are looking at your personal information.
  8. Contact the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service and have them delete your name from their lists.
  9. If you still use checks and snail mail to pay bills, don't mail them from home unless you have a secured post office lockbox on your street. Take them directly to the post office.
  10. Never give out personal information on the phone unless you called them.
  11. Don't pay your credit card bills without first looking at all the charges on your statement.
  12. If you think you are a victim, notify the three credit reporting agencies as well as your local law enforcement office.

 

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Jim Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award Mission Valley
California DRE License #01458572
619-729-5701
jimfrimmer@century21award.com

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  1. Robin Rogers 08/30/2009 09:55 AM
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Rainmaker
640,298
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Jim, I try to take extra precautions. We even have two shredders now; one upstairs and one downstairs.  We have also added Lifelock. This is our second year with them so we just got our credit reports.  It is good to know that someone is helping us. 

Aug 29, 2009 10:11 PM #1
Rainmaker
536,486
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hey Jim,

Good info, I need to make a few changes on things myself.

I heard about the Bernanke thing the other day. In the same story they said that Will Smith also had the same issue, but didn't figure it out until someone charge up $33,000 on his cards. I somehow think most of us would figure it out before that.

Aug 29, 2009 10:13 PM #2
Rainmaker
502,098
Brian Burke
Kenna Real Estate - Highlands Ranch, CO
Broker & Advising Expert-Denver Luxury Real Estate

After I lost my wallet - gosh now some years ago - but nevertheless since then I have been very careful of what I carry with me. Typically the minimum. Never a social security card. And since in that lost wallet was my green card - I don't carry that with me now either. That is one difficult one to replace and I get pulled into the "interrogation" room at the airport every time I enter USA because the old card was lost. ~Rita

Aug 29, 2009 10:40 PM #3
Ambassador
654,556
Janna Scharf
Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Coeur d'Alene Real Estate Pro

Great advice, one can never be too careful.  There are so many scam artists out there right now just waiting to pounce when you least expect it....

Aug 30, 2009 01:51 AM #4
Rainmaker
414,771
Betina Foreman
512-771-6318 Austin Home Girls Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E. Selling Homes in Lake Travis & Central Austin!

Great tips! Better to know whats happening with your credit at all times. As a victim of credit card fraud, it took almost 9 months to get the charges cleared up. Be proactive!

;)

 

Aug 30, 2009 01:14 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,109,053
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Hey, Marchel - So do you shred upstairs first and then take that and shred it again downstairs? LOL You should do a blog post on Lifelock. I bet it would be a Featured post!

Hey, Lynda - I notice it when $3.30 shows up on my card with a name that I don't recognize. Usually it's from a small mom-and-pop bakery or something. I can't imagine having $33,000 show up on my card.

Hey, Rita - What are you doing with a Green Card? Well, at least you're not an illegal immigrant - LOL.

Hey, Janna - And as someone famous said recently, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Hey, Betina - I've been fortunate, I believe, but my marketing guru got hit a couple of years ago. He checks everything on a daily basis, though, so he caught it very rapidly. He was pretty sure that he did not order anything from "Mary's Famous Women's Clothing" in New York City - LOL.

Aug 31, 2009 09:37 PM #6
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Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
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