What's your favorite pizza topping?
That's not an idle question when it comes to protecting your identity. In fact, it's one of many security questions now being used by banks to verify your online banking transactions.
Identity theft is a growing problem, with more than 217 million people affected by data breaches since 2005, according to the nonprofit PrivacyRights.org.
Most of these cases will go unsolved and unprosecuted. Financial institutions simply pay for the losses (passing along the costs), or put the blame on the consumer.
That makes it all the more important that you know the many forms of identity theft, along with what will -- and won't -- protect you. If you think it's only about credit cards, you're probably vulnerable.
A Credit "Freeze" Isn't the Answer
There's widespread advertising for services that promise to put a "freeze" on your credit report, but those services really can't protect you from the most expensive types of identity theft. In fact, consumers are paying big monthly fees for something they could easily do themselves for free.
A temporary credit freeze keeps anyone from opening new credit in your name. You can do that with a click, by going to AnnualCreditReport.com, which connects you to each of the three major credit bureaus to order your free credit report (safely authenticated), and at the same time request a 90-day credit freeze if you want one.
But protecting against someone opening new credit in your name doesn't give you any protection against a number of identity theft schemes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit freezes take care of only about 30% of the identity theft problems.