24 March 2011
The New Numbers Game: Measuring Your Risk of Identity Theft

Forget about your credit score. Have you heard about the new “I.D. score”?

Yes, it’s just one more number tagged to our personal and financial lives, but it’s an important one – one that can provide insight into whether your personal information is being used fraudulently.

Mining Identity Data

Just like a credit score, which predicts the likelihood that you will pay your debts responsibly, an I.D. score measures the likelihood of you becoming a victim of identity fraud. ID Analytics, a leader in this emerging field, assigns a three-digit number between 1 and 999 (lower is better). How they come up with the number is a closely guarded secret. But, in general, companies providing these services look for suspicious or unusual relationships among billions of basic identity elements – name, Social Security number, phone number, date of birth, address, etc.

Certain events and patterns can lead to a score increase, such as a fraudulent application linked to your phone number or an abnormal amount of credit applications originating from your address.

“Do I Really Need Another Number?”

While not for everyone, I.D. scoring is a good complement to more traditional identity theft prevention approaches such as:

• Credit monitoring
• Fraud alerts
• Credit freezes

If you find you have a high I.D. score, you can then take aggressive action to protect your identity information, such as opting for secure electronic delivery of your financial statements and other bills, and shredding paper documents with personal information before disposing of them.

Who’s at Risk?

Take this quick quiz for a better understanding of your risk of identity theft.

How is your mail delivered to you?

[] To an outdoor mailbox

[] Through the door

[] Lobby/common area

[] P.O. Box

Unsecured mailboxes are magnets for scamsters looking for pre-approved credit offers and personal information. For outgoing mail, especiallychecks, make sure mail goes into a secured mailbox, or drop it off at a USPS mailbox or post office.

How many credit/debit cards are in your wallet or purse?

[] 1

[] 2 to 4

[] More than 4

[] Don’t have any

Experts suggest you carry two major credit cards and keep a spare card or two tucked away safely at home or in a bank safe-deposit box in case your wallet gets stolen or you lose your primary card. Some consumers use a dedicated credit card for online shopping, which can make it easier to keep track of fraudulent activity or limit damage if you become a victim of identity theft.

When did you last check your credit report?

[] Have never checked

[] Within the last 3 months

[] Within the last 24 months

[] Use a regular monitoring service
Consider checking your credit report at least once a year.  AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service created by the three nationwide credit reporting companies where consumers can request a free credit report every 12 months: www.annualcreditreport.com

What do your PINs and passwords typically contain?

[] Easy-to-remember words/numbers (birthdate, child’s name, etc.)

[] Letters only

[] Numbers only

[] Mix of letters, numbers and characters

Make passwords long, random and memorable. Here’s a great example: Tp4tci2s4U2g! (The password for (4) this computer is too (2) strong for you to (4U2) guess!) This password gets its strength from multiple words, random punctuation, random capitalization and random simple substitutions.

Which of the following online services do you use?

[] Chat rooms/forums

[] Social networking sites

[] People-finding websites

[] Internet auctions

Regularly update your privacy settings on social media sites such as FaceBook, as settings often change.

Which of the following preventive security measures do you take?
[] Regularly install security updates on your computer
[] Use a passcode or lock on your smart phone

[] Use an e-mail spam filter

[] Never respond to unsolicited e-mails

[] Regularly run an antivirus program

These are all excellent security habits to follow. Try building them into your weekly routine so that you are regularly focusing on online security.

Do Your Part

Retail companies, healthcare providers and communications companies are increasingly using I.D. scoring to assess fraud risk for new account applications. The goal is to make sure that scammers don’t try to receive goods and services in an innocent consumer’s name. Of course, you’ll need to do your part to avoid identity theft and fraud.

Because so many scammers prey on Internet shoppers, Nevada State Bank has partnered with Visa® and MasterCard® to offer online purchase protection that will help you prevent unauthorized online purchases to your credit or debit cards. After registering, you will be asked to enter your password
when making purchases at participating websites to identify you as the authorized user of the card. It’s that easy!  For more information, visit our website.

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