There have been so many large security breaches this year that affect so many sectors of the U.S. population, that I’m beginning to wonder how many times has my identity been compromised. There’s the Veteran’s Administration, TSA, Chicago Board of Elections, Los Angeles County Child Support Services, and TJ Maxx alone, and so many more that I’ve lost count.
There is a pretty decent web site that chronicles security breaches here (link below).
Identity thieves primarily want to steal enough elements of your identity to be able to establish credit in your name, which they use to obtain cash and marketable merchandise. They don’t pay the bills, but leave it to you, in whose name their credit cards were opened.
There are several things you can do to protect your identity, including:
- Set up a fraud alert with one or more of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). This will alert you to any changes in your credit file.
- Examine your credit report carefully at least once per year.
- Close credit accounts that you no longer use.
- Consider getting your mail at a PO Box or a Private Mail Box (PMB), to reduce the possibility of mail theft.
- Reduce or discontinue your use of credit.
- Pay cash.