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Identity Theft – Identity Theft Protection Is Your First-Line Against Identity Fraud
Identity theft – Identity theft protection is your first-line against identity fraud
One of the fastest rising crimes in the world today is identity theft. Every year, millions of people worldwide fall victim to this horrendous crime. When a person is the victim of identity theft, it can take years to recover and restore their credit. Identity theft occurs when a criminal gets a hold of either your credit card number or social security number and your name. With this information, a criminal can wreak havoc on your life. He or she will be able to assume your identity and drain your bank account or max out your credit cards, open new accounts in your name and if they have a criminal history, they can identify themselves as you and your troubles will be worse than you can imagine. They will destroy your life. This all happens before your next statement comes in. There are ways that you can protect yourself from identity theft. The biggest is just use common sense. If you loose your wallet, and suspect it was stolen, immediately report it to the police, and cancel your credit cards immediately. Your cards will be canceled and new ones mailed to you. The important thing is not to give the criminal any time to use your cards. Most people know what their social security number is so it is not necessary to carry it with you. It is recommended that you keep your social security card and personal information secured in your home.
Many criminals try to get your personal information by telephone; they will call you stating that they are from either your bank or Credit Card Company and ask you to verify your personal information before they can speak to you further. Keep in mind that these companies have your information already, and will never ask you for your bank account number or your credit card number. If you are unsure of what to do, ask them to tell you what they have for numbers and you will verify it that way. If a company asks for too much information to be verified, hang up and call your local law enforcement. Virtually all credit card companies and banks have safety protocols that they must follow to insure the integrity of their business.
How can I protect myself?
There are many different ways that you can protect yourself from identity theft. If you get in the habit of doing them daily, you will reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. Keep all of your personal information such as your social security card, passport, birth certificate in a locked box or a safe deposit box, it is not recommended that you carry this information unless it is needed. Your social security number defines who you are. It should never be given out to strangers. Although many companies require a social security number to fill out an application or to register, it is recommended that you ask if you can give your drivers license instead. When you are doing house cleaning, do not throw your old bank or credit card statement, tax documents, or expired credit cards in the trash; shred them. A crafty criminal knows that health insurance forms, medical record and even junk mail such as pre-approved offers can be used to steal your identity. These documents should also go into the shredder. If you have a large number of credit cards, it may take a while before you notice if one is missing. If you reduce the number or credit cards to one or two, again you are reducing your chance of becoming a victim of identity theft. You will not have to wait till the statement comes in at the end of the month to find you have become a victim. By using these guidelines, you are taking the steps to protect yourself from identity theft; you are becoming proactive in deterring criminals from preying on you.
Criminals put a lot of time and effort into developing ways to obtain your personal information. They take a very professional approach to stealing your information to obtain your identity. Phone scams, Theft, Phishing, Dumpster diving, Skimming and Shoulder surfing are just to name a few.
Here are some definitions on how they do it
· A phone scam is when the criminal pretends to be someone in a position of authority or of importance such as a landlord, law enforcement, or a public employee. People in these positions are given information more freely because the type of information is requested often.
· Theft occurs when the criminal snatches a purse or goes through your mailbox to obtain personal information. There are documented cases where a criminal will walk into your house if he or she sees a purse within close proximity to the door.
· Phishing is a more complicated scam; it involves taking an existing website and creating a fake site to obtain your personal information. The websites that are usually used for phishing are financial websites. It is important to keep in mind that if your name is not on an email sent, or you did not register for an online account, you should contact your financial institution. Also, if the email request that you verify your password or asks for you information, you should contact the authorities.
· Dumpster diving is when the criminal goes through your garbage to obtain your personal information. Believe it or not, more personal information has been obtain through dumpster diving than any other method. It is important to shred all of your information before you throw it away.
· Skimming has become very popular in recent years. The criminal uses special machines to skim the information from your bankcard or credit card. He or she can then use this information for illegal purposes.
Shoulder surfing is just as the name indicates. A criminal will pretend to wait in line behind you while you make your transaction to see your pin number. He or she will make conversation or create some kind of distraction and switch your good card with another. He or she will then have your card and your pin number to do with, as they want.
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