Beating Identity Theft

I've been hearing more about identity theft again. Seems the prime targets for identity theft are people who make more than $100,000 a year. Apparently, crooks cruise both middle class and upper class neighborhoods (assuming that people who live there are making reasonable money and have good credit) and pick up the garbage bags from these homes. What are they looking for? Your mail.

It doesn't have to be a credit card bill that they find in order for them to cause you trouble. As long as they have your name and your address and some additional personal information, they can start to build up a profile of you. Perhaps they apply for some additional identification (once they have the basics on you). Later, it could culminate in credit cards in your name.

The result can devastate your credit score.

Credit card fraud is usually the favorite of such con artists, but it's not the only one. If they have enough information on you, they can actually apply for a mortgage in your name and skip town with the cash. Some people have found that they had mortgages on a property that they never knew about -- and they didn't find out about until they went to sell their home.

The easiest and most simple solution is to shred everything that has your name, address or any other identifying information on it. I even shred the envelopes that my letters have come in. By doing this, I'm protecting my credit history and my pocket book.

Even if you don't live in a "ritzy" neighborhood, don't assume it can't happen to you. And for the price of a shredder (and you can get a cheap one for under $20) you can make sure it won't ever happen to you. That's cheap insurance.

Michael

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