For a long time I have told you that you are only as safe from identity theft as the places with the weakest security that have your information. It is for this reason that I urge you to limit the places that do have your personal information, such as your Social Security number as much as you can. For example, your doctor asks for your Social Security number, ask in return if they would be willing to accept your driver’s license. A doctor does not need your Social Security number; they generally ask for it merely to make collection of overdue bills easier. Sometimes, however, you have no control over the security breaches that can make you a victim of identity theft. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced recently that three bank tellers and two other people stole more than $850,000 from the accounts of customers of the banks where the tellers worked and had access to personal and financial information of hundreds of customers. The banks have reimbursed the customers who lost money in this scam.
It is very important to be vigilant in regard to monitoring all of your financial accounts for fraudulent activities. This means regularly reviewing all of the transactions in your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, credit cards and all other financial accounts that you may have. The earlier you spot a problem, the easier it is to correct. This also means monitoring your bills such as your telephone bills for fraudulent charges that may appear through a scam called cramming where regular small charges, sometimes easy to overlook, are put on your phone bill by scammers in various ways.