Risky Business: How Likely are You to Suffer Identity Theft?

Risky Business: How Likely are You to Suffer Identity Theft?

The Problem

How to know if you're at risk for identity theft—or, worse, if someone is attempting to steal your identity right now? Simply looking at your credit report, or credit card and bank statements may alert you as much as a year after crooks have started using your personal information. We'd rather catch them before that.

The Solution

Figure out how high your individual risk of identity theft is, and then stay on top of it.

The Action

MyIDScore.com is a free service from ID Analytics, an anti-fraud software developer whose clients include banks and creditors. My ID Score assesses how at-risk you are for identity theft by taking your name, address, and date of birth (Social Security number and email address are both optional), and spitting out a number between 1 and 999. The higher the score, the greater your risk of identity theft.

My ID Score will also use your personally identifiable information (or PII) to improve its own research and products, but you don't have to allow that if you don't want to. The site gives you the option to opt out of having your data used for anything but your own ID score. If you pick this option, an automatic email to the company will be generated on your behalf, with "opt-out" in the subject line.

Your score is produced through the discovery of anomalies in your financial data, such as someone applying for credit or a job with your name but only part of your personal information. That's the sort of thing that can signal someone trying to steal your identity. A low score is a reassuring sign that this likely isn't the case, though you should remain vigilant by guarding your Social Security number from all except those (such as your bank) with a legitimate need for it. Additionally, we recommend keeping your birth date and year out of your Facebook profile and other social networking sites.

If you receive a high score such as 600 or more, don't freak out just yet. Remember, the score is based on probability—it doesn't guarantee that you'll be a victim of identity theft any more than a low score guarantees you won't be. But, if the probability is high, take immediate action. Begin by carefully reviewing your bank account and credit card statements to see if there are any transactions you didn't make--report them immediately if there are. Next, go to AnnualCreditReport.com —the only government-authorized credit reporting site—to look at your credit report for free. Check ca

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