Friend or Foe? Prevent House Guest from Stealing your Identity

Having a gathering with friends and family is usually a great time to catch up on life stories, what it shouldn’t end up is Identity Theft. For most of us, the last person we would suspect of stealing our identity is a family friend, roommate or worse, a family member.

Friendly Fraud is when the fraud committed against you is from someone known to you. Along with the disappointment of finding out a friend or family member may have opened credit cards in your name, you’ll need to consider filing a police report against that person for Identity Theft.

Here are some suggestions to be Proactive with your PII in your residence.

  1. Keep valuable documents like Medical Cards, Passports and legal documents you may need access to in a Fireproof Home Safe. Keep it hidden and away from snooping eyes. For Certificates including: Birth/Marriage/Death, Insurance Policies including Vehicle / Home and Social Security Cards, I recommend using a Safe Deposit Box and not keeping un-needed documents at your residence at all. In the event of a theft or disaster, you’ll be glad these documents were not in the home.
  2. Often house guest ask for your Wi-Fi access and just giving out your security passcode could leave you vulnerable to someone accessing your network. Most routers support dual SSIDs, so you can make up a funny SSID and password for them to use. After they leave, disable it until next time.
  3. Computer sharing is another concern. Allowing someone access to your computer could give them access to confidential information and websites of your Social media and financial institutions. I suggest, similar to your Router, set up a Guest Account, they have limited access and can’t make any computer changes or install software.

Here are some Reactive steps to take if you believe your Identity may have been stolen. If you start getting suspicious phone calls from companies verifying your address and asking odd questions and you start getting preapproved offers, more than before. Contact the National Credit Reporting Agencies and place a free Fraud Alert and order your free credit reports.

While reviewing your credit report look at your ‘personal information’, are there any addresses you don’t recognize? New phone numbers or variations of your name that weren’t there before?

Next look for Hard Inquiries, these are creditors reviewing your credit file. If you see any indications of some else using your identity, file an Identity Theft Report. List all activity found including any suspects. Listing them as a suspect doesn’t mean they are absolutely guilty, let law enforcement determine that.

I would suggest also checking your public records with LexisNexis Personal Reports and Clarity Services who are often used by payday loan lenders.

Mark Fullbright
Mark is an ICFE CITRMS® Certified Identity Theft Advocate. His experience includes over 20 years in Financial Crimes, with his specialty (and his favorite) being his dedication to helping the victims of Identity Theft.