Yep. You read that headline correctly. The other 92% happens the old-fashioned way – by stealing your physical papers! Dumpster diving and stealing your mail or your wallet/purse are the most common ways that criminals assume your identity. Identity theft is so lucrative that thieves often break into cars or homes just to steal important papers. And the number of people this affects is staggering. Over 10 million people are victims of identity theft each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. These victims can spend months, even years, and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess that thieves have made of their good name and good credit.
Everyone should review their credit report regularly and take action if there is any suspicious activity such as accounts that are unfamiliar or changes to address or social security numbers. Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report each year and they can be obtained from sites like AnnualCreditReport.com.
The Federal Trade Commission has a site dedicated to helping people Deter, Detect and Defend against identity theft. The Department of Justice also has great information on its site that can help and inform.
One of the best, and simplest, ways to defend your identity is to go paperless. Scan all of your important documents and secure them on your hard drive or through an Internet-based backup site. ScanSnap scanners provide and easy way to instantly create searchable PDF files so that your documents are easy to find – and more importantly, secure with features such as password protection and *digital ID creation*. Once you have scanned your documents, shred them before throwing them out. Don’t keep important papers in filing cabinets in your home, garage or storage unit. Scan it, then can it!
If you do become a victim of identity theft, act quickly and be diligent. The steps that you take to capture the details of what happened, secure a police report and contact your financial institutions will be the most important actions to clearing your name and possibly catching the thief.
The bottom line is don’t delay in protecting your identity. This isn’t a crime that only affects the other guy. You could be the next victim.
*Features are available with the ScanSnap S510, S510M, S1500, and S1500M that ship with a full version of Adobe Acrobat.
Mark Lewis, Director of Marketing
Fujitsu Computer Products of America