Fraud Expert John Sileo discusses why your child is 51X more likely to become a victim of ID Theft on Fox Business.
Why are our kids, the very people we most want to protect, so vulnerable to identity theft? Because they have unused, unblemished credit profiles. According to Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, 10.2% of the children in a recent report had someone else using their Social Security numbers. That figure is 51 times higher than the rate for adults of the same population.
Thieves steal a child’s identity early on, nurture it until they have a solid credit score, and then abuse and discard it. If it’s not discovered in time, fraudulent use of your child’s identity could mean the loss of educational and job opportunities and starting off adulthood at a serious disadvantage with someone else’s bad credit in her name.
Holiday travel brings various levels of challenge and stress. Don’t let identity theft risk add to your anxiety.
Here are five tips to help you to avoid becoming a victim while on vacation:
1. Stop your mail and newspaper. Avoid letting un-invited credit invitations sit in your mail box. You can stop your mail by phone or online at usps.com. Also, ask a trusted neighbor to watch for package & parcel deliveries and to hang on to them until you return. If you receive a daily newspaper, put your subscription on hold. A pile of un-retrieved newspapers in your driveway is a “Welcome” sign to thieves.
2. Don’t advertise that you’re on vacation. Make sure if you are going to post vacation updates on your e-mail, on social networking websites, or on your voice mail greeting, that you post generically, no specifics. Put a few lights on timers so that your home doesn’t look unoccupied for the entire time you’re gone. Replace the front porch light bulb.
Freezing your credit is the number one way to protect against financial identity theft. If everyone in the country applied for a Credit Freeze, identity thieves would quickly be out of business. At least, a major part of their business. Take 30 minutes and lower your chances of identity theft drastically (see the online Freeze links at the bottom of this post).
To go directly to placing a security freeze on your 3 bureau accounts, page down to the bottom section.
Every time you establish new credit (e.g., open up a new credit card, store account or bank account, finance a car or home loan, etc.), an entry is created in your credit file which is maintained by companies like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (listed below). The trouble is, with your name, address and social security number, an identity thief can pretend to be you and can establish credit (i.e., spend your net worth) in your name.
During a recent 60 Minutes interview, I was asked off camera to name the Achilles’ heel of an entire country’s data security perspective; what exactly were the country’s greatest weaknesses. The country happened to be New Zealand, a forward-thinking nation smart enough to take preventative steps to avoid the identity theft problems we face in the States. The question was revealing, as was the metaphor they applied to the discussion.
Achilles, an ancient Greek superhero — half human, half god — was in the business of war. His only human quality (and therefore his only exploitable weakness) was his heel, which when pierced by a Trojan arrow brought Achilles to the ground, defeated. From this Greek myth, the Achilles’ Heel has come to symbolize a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength; a weakness that can potentially lead to downfall. As I formulated my thoughts in regard to New Zealand, I realized that the same weaknesses are almost universal — applying equally well to nations, corporations and individuals.
I became a professional identity theft speaker because my business partner used my identity (and my business’s impeccable 40-year reputation) to embezzle more than a quarter million dollars from our best, most trusting customers. Thanks to drawn-out criminal trials and a seriously impaired lack of attention to my business, I suddenly found myself without a profession.
So I wrote a book about my mistakes, and with a little luck, it led to a speaking career based in first-hand experiences with data theft. The formula works – sharing my failure to protect sensitive information and losing just about everything as a result – my wealth, my business, my job and nearly my family – is a powerful motivator for audiences, both as individuals and professionals. People only understand and act upon the corrosive nature of this crime when they can taste it’s bitterness for themselves. My goal has always been to provide a safe and effective appetizer of data theft that convinces audiences to feed on prevention rather than recovery.
“It lies at the core of a great deal of what we do protecting our financial security, our personal security, and our reputational security,” Chertoff said. “And what I’m referring to is how we manage and protect our personal identities because I’m going to submit to you that in the 21st Century, the most important asset that we have to protect as individuals and as part of our nation is the control of our identity, who we are, how we identify ourselves, whether other people are permitted to masquerade and pretend to be us, and thereby damage our livelihood, damage our assets, damage our reputation, damage our standing in our community.” – Michael Chertoff
Some readers might not know that I was a two-time victim of identity theft for losses of more than $300,000. That is the reason I wrote Stolen Lives and that I am now a professional identity theft speaker. I don’t promote my services any more than necessary on my blog (I leave that to my commercial website which deals with my profession as an identity theft speaker and expert). Quite often, however, I have blog readers requesting to see a preview video of my speaking. To satisfy that request, I’ll post a copy of my identity theft speaker preview video below. By the way, I learned the value of linking my YouTube videos, my blog and my website from an amazing SEO guy named Steve Mertz. Check out his SEO advice.
I just finished giving an identity theft prevention and data privacy speech for Pfizer and one of the questions I received was how to protect your laptop, passports, client files, etc. when you leave them behind in your hotel room. I’ve blogged on this before, but thought that I would post a quick video reminder on protecting your identity in a hotel room. We are at such a greater risk of identity theft when we are traveling that it is worth taking a second look at your habits.