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Of Course It Won’t Happen To Me…Guess What? It Did!

  • Did you know that 26% of Americans report having personal or financial information stolen?
  • Did you know that 21% of people whose financial or personal data were stolen knew who stole the information?
  • Did you know that in a recent survey, 63% of those interviewed had unauthorized purchases on an existing credit card?
  • Did you know that in that same survey, 22% of those interviewed claimed that someone obtained a new credit card in their name?

The survey I’m referring to was conducted by Experian.

Frankly I was a little surprised at how high those numbers were. One out of five people had a credit card opened by someone else! Yes I know people who have been affected by identity theft and fraud. I have asked myself, "Could it happen to me?" Quickly I said no. That turned into I hope not. And it did.

I am not sure how, but someone got one of my frequent traveler cards for a hotel. Thankfully it wasn’t a credit card. But what they were able to do was make reservations all over the United States and show up and cash checks — bogus checks. Those checks didn’t have my name or address on them but the policy of the hotel is still to cash the checks because I have high status at this hotel chain. Not only did I know that I could cash checks, I never thought a hotel would cash checks without looking at ID — which is what most of the hotels did.

Identity theft is real. Just to put that into perspective, this blog gets 1,000 hits per week. That means that 250 people will be affected by identity theft. Yes 250 readers of this blog will be affected. The number is huge!

I thought I was being very careful and have no idea how this happened. Right now I am focusing on cleaning up this mess which has been a royal pain in the #$%^&*(.

A few things all of us should do:

  • Examine the charges on your credit card statements before paying them
  • Shred all documents that have account numbers
  • Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
  • Cancel all unused credit cards

And of course never give your social security number to anyone

  • Has this happened to you?
  • How did you handle it?
  • Do you have any tips to prevent identity theft and fraud?

I look forward to your comments.

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