Convinced it will never happen to you? Just how cavalier are you with those identifying slips of paper and credit card receipts? Find out by taking this quiz.
You get a credit card offer, student loan statement, or credit card statement in the mail. When you're done with it, you
a) Just throw it in the trash
b) Store it away for years
c) Shred it
True or false: You leave tons of personal information on your e-mail system at work.
Which of the following is a signal that someone has stolen your identity?
a) You round a corner and come face-to-face with someone who looks exactly like you -- just like the movie Face/Off with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.
b) You wake up and you just don't feel like yourself.
c) Your spouse opens the credit card bill and notices a $2,000 charge for the ''Hedonism III'' resort -- and except for that bachelor party years ago, you've never set foot inside the place.
Some of the ways that thieves can use your identity:
a) Obtain a new credit card account in your name. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
b) They establish cellular phone service in your name.
c) They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account.
d)They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
e) You responded to an Internet or AOL account update request. If you receive an e-mail request that appears to be from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) stating that your "account information needs to be updated" or that "the credit card you signed up with is invalid or expired and the information needs to be re-entered to keep your account active," do not respond without checking with your ISP first.
f) Any of these
True or false: You regularly write or call companies to be added to their privacy ''opt-out'' list -- requesting they not share, trade or sell your personal information on mailing lists.
True or false: You have your Social Security number and phone number printed on checks.
Identity theft can occur when:
a) Your neighbor steals your newspapers.
b) Personal information such as a Social Security number or a driver license number is stolen and used to open new credit card accounts, obtain loans or make purchases.
c) Your mail is pilfered from garbage.
d) Answers b or c.
True or false: You always fill out the information on warranty cards and send them back as postcards.
True or false: You have frank discussions with your accountant and employer about where and how your financial information and personnel files are maintained.
True or false: You don't make much of an effort to buy from secured Web sites, or large ''brand name'' Web sites. You have no idea how to even check such a thing.
You pay for a meal at a restaurant with a credit card. What do you do with the receipt?
a) Throw it in the trash or leave it there.
b) Stuff it in your wallet, figuring you'll file it later.
c) Tear it up so that no one can read account numbers or expiration dates and pay extra special attention to the person who is handling your credit card.
True or false: If you're a victim of identity theft, you can deduct your losses from fraud, or any books you purchase to help you solve the problem.
When cleaning out old financial or personal file folders, you:
a) Just file it all in the circular file and forget about it.
b) Clean out files? HA!
c) Shred anything you wouldn't feel comfortable having someone pick up and read.
You would describe a shredder as:
a) A really great surfer.
b) A service that collects your important financial, credit card or classified documents and disposes or recycles them.
c) A device that strip-cuts, cross-cuts or disintegrates your important financial, credit card, and classified documents.
d) Answers b and c.
When it comes to credit report monitoring, you usually:
a) Don't worry about it much; figure the credit bureaus are on top of it.
b) Check for inaccuracies or unauthorized charges when you go to obtain credit or buy a home.
c) Obtain copies of your credit report at least once a year and check for inaccuracies such as unauthorized charges or fraud.
When paying bills, you:
a) Keep the credit card companies in business by paying a lot of late fees.
b) Miss a bill here and there, maybe have a 30-day late payment.
c) Stay on top of your finances, especially bill due dates, so you'll know immediately if a bill's missing. Know the onus is yours to check with the credit card company immediately to see where the missing bill is.
When it comes to your Social Security number, you
a) Just give it out when someone asks.
b) Carry it with your wallet, right next to the driver license.
c) Protect it. Only give it out when necessary and avoid companies that use the Social Security number as an account number.
If your wallet is missing and feared stolen, the first thing you do, after calling police, is
a) Figure the thief may return it; wait to hear from the police.
b) Look for copies of credit card and bank phone numbers, which you have stored and listed separately.
c) Call your credit card companies and bank; close your accounts immediately. Open new accounts with new PINs.
d) Contact the credit bureaus fraud alert hotline, and tell them to watch for possible fraud on your account. This should alert credit grantors to check with you before approving new loans or cards in your name.
e) Answers b, c and d.
True or false: A credit reporting agency will not remove inaccurate information from a credit report unless a creditor says to do so, and does not judge the accuracy of the data it stores. Identity-theft victims must contact creditors and credit agencies individually.
True or false: You regularly give out personal information on the phone or online to businesses with which you are not familiar.
True or false. A credit-monitoring system will examine your credit report monthly for problems and send you reports.
-- Posted: June 22, 2001