(c)6-10-2014 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Identity theft is a major problem–one that can be financially ruinous and take years to clear up. Identity thieves are extremely brilliant and come up with one after another tactic to scare people into revealing crucial personal information like date of birth, address, Social Security number, and bank account information.
What people should know is that they will NEVER be contacted by the bank by email for any reason. They will only be contacted by the credit reporting agencies if THEY set up an inquiry and receive a response within 30 days. Any unsolicited email from anyone claiming to be these companies is not from them and should be sent to junk.
Many people think, “but I don’t have any money or property, so why would they bother stealing from me?” Unfortunately, you don’t have to be rich to fall prey to thieves, because they can counterfeit driving licenses or other identification easily and open credit card accounts in your name. You must also guard any insurance card numbers, because they can use your insurance accounts to charge expensive medical or dental procedures.
Often, as a scare tactic, they will send you a frightening email that claims something has gone wrong with your bank account or credit card, something that makes you alarmed enough to open up the email and click on a link that supposedly goes to your account. They are capable of copying and counterfeiting any commercial website.
The newest scam for the past week or so is to announce in the email header that your credit score has changed. It may claim to be from credit score bureaus like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, or even from LifeLock.
The thing is these firms are not going to just contact you out of the blue. You have to PAY them to do that. Even if you are a customer of any of these firms, do not ever click on a link, and you are better off not even opening the email, in case it contains malware. Instead go directly to your account with them on line to see if there is legitimately a problem.
One thing that will tip you off to a fake email is to look at the email address. The ones I’m receiving start with Experian@ but what comes after the @ is totally unfamiliar.
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