Chapter 22

Ten Tactics to Thwart Identity Theft and Fraud


check Protecting your personal information

check Paying attention to activity in your accounts and credit history

Hucksters and thieves are often several steps ahead of law enforcement. Eventually, some of the bad guys get caught, but many don’t, and those who do get nabbed often go back to their unsavory ways after penalties and some jail time. They may even be in your neighborhood or on your local Little League board. (For an enlightening read, check out Dr. Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door [Three Rivers Press].)

Years ago, when I lived on the West Coast, I got a call from my bank informing me that it had just discovered “concerning activity” on the joint checking account I held with my wife. Specifically, what had happened was that a man with a bogus ID in my name had gone into five different Bank of America branches on the same day and withdrawn $80 from our checking account at each one. After some detective work, I discovered that someone had pilfered our personal banking information at my wife’s employer’s payroll office. Fortunately, the bank made good on the money that it had allowed to be withdrawn by my impostor.

I had been the victim of identity theft. In my situation, the crook had accessed one ...

Get Personal Finance For Dummies, 9th Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.