This year, authorities estimate as many as 10 million Americans will have their identity stolen, and most won't realize they've been victimized until months or even years have passed. This leaves plenty of time for the thief to damage a victim's good name and good credit.
You can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft by modifying your behavior and safeguarding your personal information.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office encourages you to take the following quiz to help you identify ways in which you can better protect yourself from identity thieves. Grab a pen and tally your score:
- You receive several pre-approved credit card offers every week. (5 points) Add (5 more points) if you don't shred them before putting them in the trash.
- You carry your Social Security card in your wallet. (10 points)
- You drop your outgoing mail at an open, unlocked box or basket. (10 points)
- You carry your military ID in your wallet at all times. (10 points)
- You don't shred or tear banking and credit information when you throw it in the trash. (10 points)
- You provide your Social Security number whenever asked. (10 points) Add (5 points) if you provide it orally without checking to see who might be listening.
- You're required to use your SSN as an employee or student ID number. (5 points)
- Your SSN is printed on an employee badge that you wear. (10 points)
- Your SSN or driver's license number is printed on your personal checks. (20 points)
- You are listed in a "Who's Who" guide. (5 points)
- You carry your insurance card in your wallet, and it contains you or your spouse's SSN number. (20 points)
- You haven't ordered a copy of your credit report for at least two years. (10 points)
- You don't believe that people root around in trash looking for credit or financial information. (10 points)
If you scored 100 points or greater, you are asking for trouble. Consider buying a paper shredder, secure documents better and stop distributing personal information.
If you scored 50-100, your chances of victimization are about average, although higher if you have good credit. If you scored below 50 points, congratulations - our security awareness is high; keep up the good work.
For more information, contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office fraud line at 477-1242.