And yet another article on identity theft... Boring! But is it? Did you know young people are big targets? Here's a quick head's up.

What Is ID Theft?

A scammer uses your name, personal information, and credit to steal products and services and leaves you with the bill.

For instance:

  • A scammer opens a new credit card account in your name but with a different address. They run up the bill and don't pay it. Your credit is wrecked.

  • They establish a new cell phone account using your identity. (One scammer ran up $8000 on one fake account)

  • They open banking accounts and write bad checks.

  • They get a loan in your name. Buy a Boat. You get the bill!

  • And this one you'll like: they take a wife using your name. (One scammer even had three wives and a few kids.)

How Do Scammers Get Your Personal Information?

  • They steal your mail.
  • They steal your wallet or purse.
  • They send in a change of address form to the Post Office. They change the delivery of mail to a different address and intercept your personal information.
  • They solicit account information over the phone or via email.
  • A favorite sport of scammers: "Dumpster Diving." They go trough your trash.
  • They access personal information you share on the Internet.

How Can You Lower the Risk of Identity Theft?

Be careful with what you do with your personal information. Tear your financial statements into small pieces when you're through with them, or shred them. Always lock your mailbox. Don't give out any account or personal information on the Internet, or to persons calling around soliciting.

Put out the trash in the morning instead of at night. Dumpster divers usually work at night.

Be careful with your personal belongings. Don't leave your wallets lying around, for instance!

Good luck.

Cheers, Will