Identity theft has become a nationwide epidemic. According to AARP, 15 million people were victimized by identity theft in 2016, alone.
I’m reluctantly becoming an expert in identity theft. In my previous corporate careers, I was responsible for the safekeeping of other’s personal information, especially social security numbers. I was always meticulous and shredded any documentation containing personal information. Personally, I created my own ‘organize and shred’ process to coincide with filing my taxes. Imagine my surprise …
this year when I discovered I am a victim of identity theft again. Just once, I wish I would be surprised by a $1 million winning lottery ticket, or a 40% return on my investment portfolio, or an exemption for never having to file future tax returns. But ‘No’ — my surprise, for the third time, was discovering someone stole my social security number. This wasn’t something I easily uncovered, but after you’ve been a victim of identity theft twice before, you realize how important it is to review all your important paperwork. For me, tax season is the most effective time.
At one of my recent speaking engagements, a participant mentioned the topic of identity theft. I shared with this group of older adults that one of the first things to do is file a police report. There are only a few organizations such as your employer, your banks and lenders, and the IRS that have a legal right to your social security number, so caution is advised when others ask for it. Along with filing a police report, it is recommended you notify the three credit reporting bureaus and place a security freeze on your credit file.
As for me, I’ve filed my taxes and professionally shredded my obsolete documents. Thus, I’m diligently working to get my name off the lease for that Chicago apartment I didn’t know I rented.
Is the location of your personal information documented and available should you or a loved one need to contact the credit bureaus, file a police report or notify your bank in the event of identity theft? Could you easily find the contact information for your bank, accountants, advisors, or any other professionals that would need to be notified?