Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan

Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan by Frank Abagnale

This book can help you to learn everything you want to know about protecting your personal information. Abagnale, a former counterfeiter and now consultant to the FBI and many large financial institutions around the world, gives an inside look at the various types of identity theft and how to reduce the likelihood of it.

He goes into technology oriented identity theft schemes such as pharming and phising as well as discussing more low tech methods such as dumpster diving. It's highly recommended that you shred any personally identifiable information prior to throwing it away. Looking through a person's garbage though it might seem disgusting but is an actual method some thieves use to steal a person's identity. Abagnale also advises mailing bills from an official Post Office box rather than raising your mailbox flag which also alerts a potential thief that there might be information worth stealing inside. Another tip is to always choose to opt out when a financial institution sends you a privacy policy. This helps prevent the spread of your personal information and the potential for it to be stolen.

Surprisingly, personal information such as social security numbers is still used on some driver's licenses or as employee ids. One should avoid this when possible due to the windows an SSN can open for a thief. Abagnale also recommends limiting your usage of checks due to the large number of hands and eyes that will handle it throughout the processing. A dishonest person along the way can grab this information and either sell it or use it himself.

Abagnale indicates that the most important thing one can do in guarding against identity theft is to pull your credit report from the three major credit reporting institutions. (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) This can be done for free at annualcreditreport.com.

To help insure against identity theft, one may consider an insurer such as Zander Insurance Group's identity theft insurance.

One minor downside of the book is the author's promoting of his own products or products he endorses throughout the book. While they may be good resources to help in fighting identity theft, it seemed at times to be a sales pitch rather than an informational resource.

Overall, I learned several tips and had reinforced the need to be conscious of giving out personal information and guarding it from prying eyes.

1 comment:

Sue Ellen said...

Wish I would've read this earlier, but great info Andrew!

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