Beware of identity theft

Identity theft is one of those things that shouldn’t stay out of sight and mind. Identity theft can not only cause a tremendous amount of stress to a victim’s pocketbook but it can severely affect that person’s time and sanity as well. The Federal Trade Commission indicates that, on average, most victims do not even know their identity has been stolen until more than a year later, allowing criminals to wreak major damages to your finances and personal information.

According to the 2009 Identity Fraud Survey Report by Javelin Strategy & Research, the number of identity fraud victims increased 22 percent to 9.9 million adults in 2008. The total annual fraud amount measured $48 billion, and each victim lost an average of about $4,850. Social Security numbers (38 percent) and names and addresses (43 percent) were the data most frequently compromised.

Consumers spend an average of 40 hours to repair damage.

Here are some tips to help safeguard against identity theft:

* Always question the identity of people and companies that initiate contact with you — via e-mail, mail, telephone or even in person. Remember, ID cards, letterheads and business cards are easy to falsify. Also, be cognizant of who is around when giving out personal information.

* Keep a photocopy of all cards (both front and back) kept in your wallet or purse in a safe and secure place. This makes it easier to contact every relevant institution if your purse or wallet goes missing.

* Protect your Social Security number. This is not a number just anyone can have if they ask; always ask why companies or people might want your number.

* Order your Social Security earnings and benefits statements once a year to check for fraud.

* Never write down your personal identification numbers; memorize them. If you do need to write them down, do not keep it in the same place as your card (e.g., wallet or purse).

* Shred everything with an account number, signature, Social Security number or medical, legal information and preapproved credit card offers. These provide a thief the perfect opportunity to open a new account in your name without you knowing — until the debt collectors come knocking.

Nevada Commerce Bank provides an ID protection service featuring comprehensive identity theft protection solution. Subscribers will gain the peace of mind knowing that the ID protection service includes robust detection, reimbursement and resolution services. For more information, contact Nevada Commerce Bank at 257-7777.

Since 2000, Nevada Commerce Bank has provided commercial banking services in Southern Nevada.

The bank has two branch locations: 3200 S. Valley View Boulevard and 6795 Edmond St. For more information, log on to www.ncbnv.com.

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