The phrase “I want to be just like you” takes a scary turn when we consider identity theft. Somebody swipes your purse and, just like that, they have the chance to be you. They can make purchases in your name, charge your card, or empty your bank account. Some victims may have to spend hundreds just to repair bad credit. Others will lose out on loans and job offerings. In a few cases, victims can even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. Indeed, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States today. The United States Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

The best line of defense against theft is New Jersey’s “Identity Theft Prevention Act,” which was passed in New Jersey in 2005. This allows for individuals to “freeze” their credit card reports to prevent thieves from accessing their information.

To fight against identity theft, you need to be your own best watchdog. Monitor your credit card and banking transactions closely. Contact banks and companies if you spot any suspicious activity.

 

Christine Mancuso

Bernardsville, NJ

AARP Outreach Volunteer