Thursday, May 31, 2007

Identity Thieves in Your Safety Zone?

When I ask people to describe an identity thief I usually end up with a wide array of answers and descriptions. They range from thinking they must be from another country, or are in organized crime rings, or gang members, drug addicts, low income or poverty stricken etc. Truth is, because identity thieves come from many diverse backgrounds, you could say just about anything and not be wrong.

But everyone just about left off a description of a thief they would know best. Someone close to them!

If you’re a victim of identity theft, there is a chance you know the thief. The thief was someone close to you. How close do I mean? Well maybe not intimate close, but close enough for them to be inside your self imposed safety zone. What is that safety zone? Most likely your home, apartment, dorm room, anyplace you call home is your safety zone, the area you feel comfortable in enough to leave personal items lying out in the open because you’re inside your own personal zone.

Ever sit and think who you let into that zone? I’ll create a fictitious, but realistic list for you:

1) Aunts and Uncles plus their spouses
2) Cousins plus spouses
3) Nieces and nephews
4) Brothers and sisters plus Brother and Sister – in Laws
5) Step brothers, step sisters
6) Mother
7) Father
8) Nanny
9) Baby sitter
10) House sitter
11) Painter
12) Plumber
13) Repair Person
14) Friends
15) Co-workers
16) Teenagers friends
17) Housekeeper
18) Maintenance
19) Neighbors
20) Clergy
21) Sales people
22) Parents of your children’s friends

Now that we’ve looked at it in a little more detail, it’s a pretty big list. Probably much bigger than you envision.

Why these people? Why not? They represent a good diverse cross section of society. And in society there are plenty of people with bad and devious habits. Most bad habits are hidden from others and often require funds. Funds they do not have readily available so they have to become creative to get those funds. This new age of identity theft is giving these people easy access to funds.

Because you allow them into your safety zone, you never bother to put up your guard.

By leaving your personal information unlocked or in plain view, you are potentially inviting somebody from that list above to turn you into a victim of identity theft.

The easiest step would be to keep personal information from those people in the first place. Sounds easy but approximately 1.5 – 2 million people last year didn’t think about it and found out the hard way what people from that list were capable of.