When you’re self-employed, no matter what type of a business you’re in, if you don’t have identity theft protection, thieves can not only bankrupt you, they could possibly leave you homeless!
Think about it – when you’re an employee and getting a regular paycheck, if you become a victim of identity theft, you could easily lose all of your savings, bills pile up, etc. But you will still be able to get to work and you’re pretty much guaranteed another paycheck at the end of the week.
Plus, if you’ve been putting money into a 401K, you may be able to borrow against that to start over, provided the thieves don’t get to that too.
But when you work for yourself, unless you’ve already built a steady residual income, you aren’t guaranteed anything, so being an identity theft victim could actually shut down your whole business, leaving you with nothing!
Some Examples of Identity Theft
Thieves usually open new accounts in your name, change the billing addresses so you never get the bills on these new accounts, then they run up the charges but don’t pay the bills.
If you’re not monitoring your accounts, you’d never know this was happening until it’s too late.
What Types of New Accounts Can They Open? Just about anything:
- Credit card accounts are the most widely type of fraud.
- Phone or utilities accounts are another fraud for thieves. They can rent an apartment, get a new cell phone, open all new utility accounts, and live like kings for a while – on your dime.
- Bank accounts with new counterfeit checks, duplicate bank cards or even loans.
- Fraudulent government documents including your driver’s license with their photo in place of yours. They may go as far as using your social security number and applying for benefits or filing fraudulent tax returns.
With your driver’s license and social security cards, they can even get you arrested!
Tips for Doing Your Own Identity Theft Protection
- Protect your Social Security Number! Memorize it and keep your card in a safe place. Credit reports and most other accounts are linked to your SSN. All it takes is a social security number and these thieves can create whole new identities for themselves.
- Regularly monitor your credit report. You can tell right away if something’s wrong and contact the credit reporting agency and creditors immediately.
- Shred or burn any new credit offers that come in the mail.
- Keep an eye on your wallet – at all times! And only keep with you the information that you absolutely need.
How to Report Identity Theft
1. First, contact your police department. Hopefully, you’ve kept good records of your personal activities so you can prove the new activities as fraud committed by the offender.
2. Contact all of the creditors who issued the new accounts to the thief. Send a copy of the police report with all of the information to prove the fraud, and keep in contact with them if new activity shows up that you can prove wasn’t you.
3. Be sure to close all of your accounts and open new ones, and change your passwords online.