Hundreds of people around the world find themselves becoming victims of identity theft and many more are left worried that they too will become victims. To help protect yourself you can follow these top 10 tips on how to prevent identity theft.
Identity theft is when a person steals someone else’s identity and uses it for their own needs. Some thieves steal a person’s identity so that they can take their money or create credit cards under their name. Others may even steal your identity to commit a crime under your name. People can not only lose their money but their reputations too.
To protect yourself follow these top 10 tips that can help you prevent identity theft:
Use a shredder:
Desperate thieves can sometimes resort to scrummaging through dumpsters to find personal information that they can use to commit identity theft. Any file or document that contains even basic personal or sensitive information must be shredded before disposal.
Investing even in a cheap shredding machine can help give you some protection against identity theft. It’s small price to pay in comparison to the problems and costs you may have to incur if you are a victim of identity theft.
Check statements, reports and bills:
Always check your credit reports, financial statements and bills to detect any suspicious activity. Detecting any oddities regarding any of these items can help you confirm if someone has stolen your identity and you can take steps to minimize damage.
If you are expected a statement, report or bill and it does not arrive be sure to ring and find out why it has not arrived. There is a possibility that it may have been stolen.
Secure your belongings and vital information:
Passports, social security numbers and chequebooks are all items that you may need and have to keep close by. Ensure that you keep all of these items in a secure and safe place where it is difficult for someone to access them.
Avoid carrying these items during everyday travels. Some of these items such as a social security card number can give an thief the exact information they need to assume your identity.
Take steps to ensure that your personal information is secured safely. Passports, social security numbers and chequebooks are all items that you need to place securely so that they are not stolen.
You are often required to create passwords for access to accounts. When you are creating a password don’t choose something obvious such as your name. You can create a password that is personal but make sure it’s not something easy for someone else to guess.
Avoid using the same password for every account. If you accidentally allow someone to figure out your password they can then find it much easier to access your other accounts. When you type a password in public make sure no one is watching you do so.
With more and more using the internet there are many instances of identity theft occurring online. The use of firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software can help to prevent online identity theft. Use the latest versions for extra security.
Due to its convenience many people are choosing to shop online. For the most part it is fairly secure but for added security shop with businesses that you have heard about. While it is not fair for new online stores you can feel more secure doing business with well-known brands.
Many businesses are taking online identity theft seriously and they will often ask for verification and other security related questions. You can also find that many are verified businesses and proudly display this on their website.
If you are given the option of having a photo ID on a card then use it. A signature can be forged but a photo ID can sometimes make it much harder for someone to impersonate you. Store staff often do not bother to check signatures but a photo ID is harder to miss.
Don’t give out your information:
Up until you can fully verify who the other person is never give out your personal information. You may receive a phone call, mail through the post or even an email requesting for your personal details.
Some thieves may even pose as staff from your bank. If you feel uncomfortable and are suspicious due to the questions hang up and ring your bank to verify if it is really them.
Pay at the post office:
It may be convenient to have your bills paid through other means but paying bills at the post office can offer a little more security. Your mail box is not a secure place and is not out of reach of anyone looking to commit identity theft. Bills can contain sensitive information that in the wrong hands can play havoc in your life.
Typing in your password or having a telephone conversation where you are providing sensitive information are times where you need to be on alert. Taking a call on your mobile phone in public is common for many people but when you need to pass on sensitive information be sure to do it in a secure area where no one can eavesdrop.
Be in the know-how:
The more you know about the different techniques that can be used to commit identity theft the better you will be able to prevent yourself becoming a victim. Thieves are always looking for different ways to commit crimes and you need to be aware of their methods.
A number of websites can be found on this topic matter as well as professional organizations offering advice on the matter. Get all the information that you need to protect yourself.
Identity theft is a serious problem but by using the tips above you can take steps to protect yourself.