Skip Navigation and Section Links - Go To Content Your online down home newspaper

Financial Focus

Take Steps to Prevent Identify Theft

By Mark Sonnier AAMS, Investment Representative
October 28, 2004

If you lose your cell phone, it’s an inconvenience. If you lose your keys, it’s a problem. But if you lose your identity, it can be a disaster.

And, over the past five years, one in eight adults has suffered some type of identity loss, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Victims of identity theft may have their credit cards used illegally, or they may have credit information stolen and used to make costly purchases. In 2002, identity theft cost U.S. businesses and consumers about $50 billion.

Identity thieves act in a variety of ways, from stealing your mail (especially those “pre-approved “ credit card offers) to calling a credit bureau and, or prospective employer, asking for your credit information. And, of course, computer-smart thieves can get your private information from the Internet.

How can you protect yourself from identity theft: Here are a few tips:

Don’t share your Social Security number -

Unless it’s truly necessary, as when you’re filing official papers, don’t give out your Social Security number. Smart crooks can use your number in a variety of ways - And none of them are good for you.

Shred those documents -

If you’re getting rid of old tax returns, investment statements and bank documents, use a shredder. And, as long as you’ve got the shredder out, use it on pre-approved credit card offers. At the very least, when you receive those pre-approved envelopes, rip them up before throwing them away.

Get your credit report annually -

To request a copy of your credit report, you can call the three main credit bureaus: Equifax (1-800-685-1111), Experian (1-888-397-3742) and Trans Union (1-800-888-4213). Check your report closely for “surprises” or unaccounted activity.

Update accounts to reflect changes in your life -

You’ll want to revise the official ownership designations of your financial accounts - loans, credit cards, etc. - to accommodate changes in your life, such as divorce. Otherwise, you might find that, on a credit report, your ex-spouse’s problems are now also yours.

Opt out of credit card offers -

To get fewer pre-approved credit card offers, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT and follow the prompts. Also, when you received a phone call from a credit card company or any other type of solicitor, you can request to be placed on the company’s “do-not-call” list.

Be Alert

Identify theft has been going on ever since someone learned how to forge someone else’s signature. Unfortunately, the problem has been exacerbated by our modern age, with its mass mailings, Internet access and impersonal transactions.

Still, even with these realities, you shouldn’t live in fear of being attacked by identity thieves. First of all, the chances are still good that it will never happen to you. Second, if you follow the suggestions described above, you can further improve your odds. And finally, even if you are victimized, you can almost always straighten matters out, though it will take time and effort.

So be alert, do what you can, and live your live. Your real identity is who you are as a person - and no one can take that away from you.


Finance: Hereís What You Should Know About Dividends - August 5, 2004 article


Finance: Don't Make These Mistakes in Retirement- August 16, 2004 article


Finance: Tax-smart Investment Tips for 2004 - August 23, 2004 article


Finance: What does election year mean for investors - August 31, 2004 article


Finance: 529 Plan Can Help You Cope With College Costs - September 6, 2004 article


Finance: Time to Bring Home Some International Investments? - September 16, 2004 article


Finance: Walk Through Finances Before Strolling Down the Aisle - September 21, 2004 article


Finance: Donít Come Up Short in Your Retirement - October 2, 2004 article


Finance: When Investing, Buy What You Know - October 07, 2004 article


Finance: The Hard Truth: Most Employment is At-Will - October 14, 2004 article


Finance: Don't Follow the Latest Investment "Fads" - October 21, 2004 article

Mark Sonnier is an investment representative for Edward Jones. If you have an investment question or problem you would like Mark to address, you may reach him at (281) 332-8554 or 1025 East Main, Suite 102 in League City.

Go to Section Links

© 2004-2006
League City Area News Online.
All rights reserved.
The opinions expressed in this or any other column are those of the author, not the League City Area News Online or its staff or any of its affiliates. Any and all responses to any of the columnists are welcome.
Web design by Webmaster
Marilyn Clark.
Send comments and Letters to the Editor to:
League City Area News Online, P. O. Box 1693, League City, Texas 77574-1693

Please include your address and phone number for verification purposes.
Send e-mail to the Webmaster if there are problems with the web site.