Don’t let identity thieves take you for a ride

Great article from Experian.com. Read on …

An Experian employee forgot to lock his car one night. It turned out to be a night when someone was trolling his neighborhood, checking car doors. If it was locked, the person moved on. finding the employee’s car door unlocked, the thief took advantage, stealing his work ID, which included his photo and name, and his car registration.

Our cars carry a lot of personally identifiable information and vehicle-related personal identifiable information can lead to myriad types of fraud.

Thieves use stolen Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) in a variety of ways: to register stolen vehicles, when looking for insurance claims on totaled vehicles, and even to make duplicate keys for your car. The VIN is like your vehicle’s Social Security number. It makes that vehicle unique against others of the same make and model. thieves can use a single VIN to register dozens of vehicles. Unfortunately, you won’t know this happened unless you need to use the number, such as if you move to another state or change your insurance.

Armed with your vehicle registration information and often proof of insurance, thieves will go to car dealerships to test drive a new model. They hand over the stolen vehicle personally identifiable information and drive away – without returning. The information associates you with the missing car. Identity thieves will also use the vehicle’s personally identifiable information on car loans, so you get the debt and they get the car.

The Experian employee checked his state’s DMV web site which revealed he had to file a police report, in person, before he could apply for a new registration card.

Vehicle personally identifiable information theft is common, and often preventable. Here are four steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim:

  1. Lock your car. Thieves look for easy access and an unlocked car is the easiest access of all.
  2. Lock your glove box. Thieves know where you keep important paperwork in your vehicle. A locked glove box adds another layer of difficulty and they’ll probably move on to the next car.
  3. Don’t leave valuables in the car. Don’t treat your car like your office. Your car isn’t the place to keep your laptop, smartphone, sensitive paperwork or anything else that could result in serious harm to you if stolen.
  4. Be smart about parking. If you have a garage, use it for your vehicle. If you don’t have a garage, park close to the house or in well-lit areas.