Avoid Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

identity-theft1We’ve all heard plenty of stories about identity theft by now. We’ve all heard the accounts of experiences of unauthorized usage of their credit cards, bank accounts and other services which involve money. At least 5 out of 100 people have or will experience this kind of unwanted fraudulent activity.

Thieves will never be after your identity if they will not get any benefit from it. They need your name, birth date, address, etc., to get into your financial accounts. One must bear in mind that these personal identification facts are necessary to open a new account as well. But thieves will do whatever they can just to steal your identity and your money.

Your protection depends on you. With this kind of crime, no one can help you initially except yourself. The prevention and protection from identity thieves depends on how wise you are in handling all important information about yourself.

Here are some things one must take into consideration in order to protect oneself from identity theft:

1)  One must keep a photocopy of all credit cards, bank account numbers and other important information in a safe place. In short, one must make a back-up record of all his  or her personal information and personal numbers. Making back-up copies will help you trace and cancel your stolen or lost cards quickly. One must also not forget that even a simple identification card or a driver’s license is very important and can also be a source of information that can be stolen.

2)  Dispose of your credit card receipts properly. Do not throw your receipts anywhere or it could be taken by thieves. Receipts contain information about yourself and your account, although nowadays only the last four numbers should print. This information may help thieves to steal your identity. Shredding your bills and receipts may not be practical at all. When a bill is shredded in strips, sometimes those strips can be retrieved and pasted back together. The best way to totally destroy your bills is by burning them. There is no way one can retrieve information from ashes. It must be said though that sometimes burning your papers is not doable. If you use a shredder, use a cross-cut shredder. There’ll be no putting that back together.

3)  Keep in touch with your credit institution. If you apply for a credit card and it does not arrive immediately, contact your credit institution and relay the problem. By doing so, you can prevent any fraudulent activity that may happen as a result.

4)  Create a good combination of numbers for your PIN or passwords. Make sure that you choose a difficult-to-guess PIN. Birth dates, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, usual or famous number combinations, etc., should not be used for your PIN or passwords.

5)  Regard all information as personal. Do not give your personal information to anyone who sends you an email or a snail mail. Never give personal information over the phone.

6)  Observe the area surrounding the ATM before using it. Make sure that no one is around watching you while you make your transaction with the ATM. Make sure that there is no unusual equipment illegally attached to the ATM. There had been reports about electronic devices illegally attached to the card slot in the ATM. It has cameras on it which can record your PIN as you type it in. Another trick is a simple piece of paper. Make sure there is no paper sticking out of the slot and look inside for any as well. What happens is that you can put your card in and not get it back out. Then the thief comes back, tweezers the paper out, along with YOUR CARD! This is also a good reason to come up with a difficult PIN. Once a thief gets your name, they can look up your address, birthday, Facebook page (do you have pictures of your pet posted?), etc., to guess your PIN.

7)  Bills must be checked every month. All entries on the bill must be yours. If there are charges included in the bill which do not look familiar, immediately report it to your credit institution and ask for an investigation. If you’re sure, demand it be removed.

8)  Active and cancelled checks must be stored properly. There are banks that offer service like this.

9)  Keep all important documents in your car properly. Do not put any thing which may contain information about you in sight inside your car. You may use the glove box as safety keep for your important things. Never leave it unlocked (the glove compartment or the car).

10)  Secure all your personal information in your mobile phone and laptop with a password. Remember that laptops and mobile phones are personal gadgets that are to be used solely by you. So keep it personal. And make it hard to retrieve if the device is stolen. Remember, devise a smart password!

One must take responsibility for his belongings, personal properties and identity to totally prevent these illegal activities. The value of your identity is equivalent to the value of your life.  Credit monitoring can help you avoid the damaging effects of identity theft, by giving you early notice that there’s been fraud committed with your personal information.