Are you a victim of identity theft?

You may not notice at all until you find your bank account empty. Or, you may receive a notice from the IRS denied your tax refund because it has already been paid – or worse, by asking why you did not report all your income for the year.

The fact is, more than ten million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2008, and experts predict that the number will be higher for 2009. Not only thieves drain bank accounts and running the huge balances on credit cards, they use other people’s identity to rent houses, obtain employment, and access to health insurance.

You can not isolate yourself from it, but you can nip in the bud and prevent the thief from continuing to use your identity month after month.

I just read about a typical case where a woman wrote an online forum to share his distress. She asked if anyone else had suffered as she had. I wrote back and said. “Yes, about ten million a year”

She went online to check his bank balance and found that while his house payment and insurance payment have been laid out automatically, there was no money there to cover. She was mad because she has no money “extra” to put in the account to cover these expenses.

It turned out that when she went through the transactions, she found that the flight had started several months ago, and was ongoing.

Why had not she watched his bank account for several months? Had she balanced her statement when he arrived, she would have seen transactions that were hers and not stop theft in its tracks. Each consumer should check each bank statement and credit card statement as soon as it arrives.

In addition, everyone should keep a close eye on their credit report. Activity as a new account, a jump in the balance of an old account, a balance on an account that you believe is idle, a new job or a change of address will alert you to a flight before it is completely out of hand.

Check your credit report today – and verify all statements from your bank and credit cards whenever they arrive.

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