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March 8, 2010

Be On The Look Out For Identity Scams Part 2 Identity Theft

George B. Thompson

In 2008, identity theft cost Americans over $48 Billion dollars according to a recent survey conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research. These financial costs are a huge burden on businesses, the criminal justice system, society and the individual. When I read this dollar figure I was alarmed simply because I realize that you can not put a cost on the pain, suffering and stress that one feels when you experience this type of assault. The human cost of time and financial lost, credit problems, your good name and lack of assistance is real and extremely hard to quantify. The main message that I am trying to communicate is that identity theft can have a devastating impact on a victim so you need to be informed.

One preventive measure to stop this crime is to become familiar with the common ways that identity theft happens.  That’s right “common ways”, believe it or not identify theft happens in familiar, well-known everyday circumstances.  Take a look at the list below and make sure that you take action and protect your personal information.

Good Old Fashion Stealing:  Someone steals your wallet or purse; credit cards; credit card statements; pre-approved credit card offers; new checks or tax information. Someone can also steal personnel records or personal records stored at a bank, hospital, or company by hacking into their computer system.

Dumpster Diving: This just sound gross but people are desperate. Someone searches through your trash looking for bills or papers with your personal information on it. Remember to shred your mail before tossing in the trash.

Shoulder Surfing: This is when someone is watching you from a nearby location watching you punch in your pin number or credit card number. Remember to cover your hand when you are dialing in these numbers. Also, this could involve someone listen to you give your personal information via phone. Remember to avoid opportunities to give this information over the phone, especially if this call is an unsolicited call.

Skimming: This involves someone stealing your credit card number by using a special device when your card is processed.

Phishing: Someone pretends to be a financial institution or company and sends you spam or pop up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.

I hope you found this information helpful. Last year over 11 million people fell victim to identity theft. I believe that the more we become aware of how identify theft happens, we can make informed decisions and prevent it from occurring in our own lives. Next week we will look at what steps to take if you become a victim of identity theft.

It is my desire that you are inspired to be a good steward over these three areas of your life: Time, Talent, and Treasure. Time, you must learn to manage your time; talent you have skills and gifts and lastly treasure, your finances need to be managed appropriately. All of these areas work together; when they are managed properly you will be able to become A BETTER YOU!

Pastor George

Written By Pastor George B. Thompson for Elev8.com

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