Myths of Identity Theft
Free Credit Reports
Whether watching TV or surfing the web, you have probably been inundated with a variety of commercials, jingles and flashing banners advertising free credit reports. In all actuality though, these reports are anything but free. These ‘free’ offers normally come with strings attached and will require you to provide the company with a credit card number. Charges will accrue unless you cancel the ‘free’ service within a specified grace period.
There is only one legitimate source for free credit reports: AnnualCreditReport.com. By law, the three major credit bureaus must allow you to annually view your reports, free of charge. This law was incorporated as a part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and was a landmark resolution for consumer rights.
Take advantage of this opportunity: receive and examine your three credit bureau reports annually. Look to be sure that all of the information is correct, as well as keeping an eye out for any unfamiliar data, which may indicate a possible identity theft.
Hotel Keys Contain Sensitive Information About You, Such As Your Credit Card Number.
Several years ago, a rumor circulated through cyberspace that hotel guests’ identities were being compromised by the most unexpected of culprits: their hotel room key. The theory was that an identity thief with a credit card scanner could steal a hotel room key, swipe the card, and instantly be presented with the guests’ encoded information such as credit card number, home address and other information via the magnetic strip on the back of the key.
In response to this possible new threat, Computerworld tested 100 room key cards from various hotels, motels and resorts. They did not find one key card that contained “personally identifiable information.” Although the magnetic strips do record certain information, the keys usually only hold the data necessary to unlock a hotel room. However, hotels with older computer systems and those that are outside of the United States might still encode credit card information. No hotel key is 100% safeguarded.
When in doubt: toss it out. Deputy Attorney General Tracey Brierly suggests taking the card home with you after you check out, and destroy it when you get home.
Children Cannot Be Victims Of Identity Theft.
Unfortunately, children are prime targets for this crime. Mainly because the theft will not be noticed until years later when the grown child applies for credit cards, school loans, jobs and even when obtaining a driver’s license. What makes matters worse is that the children’s identities are normally stolen by those meant to protect them: parents, family acquaintances or relatives.
400,000 to 500,000 children were victims of identity theft in 2005. The thieves will either use the information for themselves for financial gain, criminal purposes or to sell the child’s identity on the black market.
Your Identity Dies Along With You.
Quite the contrary: a death may increase the likelihood of becoming a victim to identity theft. Thieves search the obituaries, steal death certificates and prowl genealogy sites for personal details and information that they can utilize for personal profit.
Deceased people are not affected by a bad credit rating, but the ones left can certainly feel the brunt of their loved ones identity theft. Ultimately, untangling the web of deceit and mayhem caused by identity theft is left up to the living relatives. Monetary theft may affect inheritances, and the spouses of the deceased may encounter financial issues if they shared any joint accounts with the deceased.
Without Proof Of Identity Theft, You Cannot Request Fraud Alerts To Be Placed On Your Credit Bureaus.
Anyone, for any reason, may request a fraud alert be placed on their credit bureau. The alert will stay active for 90 days. Just contact one, or all, of the three major credit bureau companies to do so.
If you need an extended alert, you may need to provide proof of fraud, like a police report for example. These extended alerts will remain for 7 years.