Identity Theft: A Major Cause of Bankruptcy Filings

As more and more people use electronic means to pay their bills and do their banking, many are finding themselves victims of identity theft. A hacker gets access to your personal information, including Social Security number, and runs up significant debt in your name, or, worse yet, clears out your bank account. Unfortunately, the rising tide of identity theft has led to an increase in the number of personal bankruptcy filings.

Ways That You Can Minimize the Risk of Identity Theft

Though more and more identity theft occurs electronically, there are still old-fashioned ways to have your personal information stolen. Here are some recommendations to avoid electronic and non-electronic identity theft:

    • Don’t open e-mails if you don’t recognize the sender, or if the e-mail has nothing more than a link—When you click on a link in an e-mail, you can unknowingly download malware, which will then crawl your computer looking for passwords and personal information.
    • Be careful when selecting passwords—Don’t choose anything obvious, including birthdays, middle names or maiden names. Even though it can be a hassle, you should change your passwords on a regular basis.
    • Stay away from unsecured web sites—If you go onto a web site and it says you need to load any kind of software to use the site, be wary. If you download anything, you may find your computer infested. If a site requires you to fill out a form, check the credentials of the site before complying.
    • Don’t give any information on the phone, unless you know who you are talking to—A recent scam has people calling, posing as your bank, asking for verification of credit or debit card information. You are better served to handle this at a local branch.
    • Don’t discard mail with personal information into your trash—Believe it or not, people will actually go through your trash or recycle bin looking for personal information. Use a shredder, if possible, for all credit card, bank or other financial statements, as well as documents containing personal information.
    • Don’t leave your mailbox unattended—Fraudsters will also steal mail from your mailbox to obtain personal information.

Contact John Hargrave and Associates

We have provided comprehensive counsel to individuals in and around Barrington, New Jersey, since 1977. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-547-6500.