While reports of identity theft decreased in 2010, "friendly fraud" is on the rise; the number of victims targeted by relatives, friends or roommates increased seven percent. According to the 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report by Javelin Strategy & Research, the demographic most affected by this type of fraud were ages 25 to 34; of these, 41 percent claim their Social Security numbers were compromised.
"Stolen Social Security numbers can cause a lot of damage for identity theft victims," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Once it's been compromised, it's out there and there is no way to control how it might be misused. Consumers must be diligent in making sure it doesn't end up in the wrong hands."
BBB reveals the five most dangerous places to store Social Security numbers:
1. Wallets or purses
3. Computers, cell phones and PDAs
4. Offices or cubicles
5. Unsecured dorm rooms and shared living spaces
Be careful when sharing Social Security numbers. Ask why it's needed and how it will be used. When requested as an identifier, find out if an alternative can be used. SSNs are often requested by employers, financial institutions and medical providers for identity verification or tax reporting; do research to ensure inquiring sources are trustworthy.extra precautions.
Never store Social Security cards or other private records in unsecured locations. At home, secure personal documents in a locked safe or storage receptacle - preferably fireproof. College students should take
Monitor credit reports and financial statements regularly. Look out for unauthorized activity. Use annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report yearly.
Shred all unnecessary documents that contain personal information. Safely shred unneeded documents at BBB's Secure Your ID Day on April 16, 2011.
Learn more about preventing identity theft at www.bbb.org. If victimized by identity theft, read BBB's steps for identity theft victims.