Identity theft is a quickly growing Internet crime that effects millions of people each year. According to the BBC one in ten people have fallen victim to identity theft in some form. So what can you do about identity theft?
While nothing can guarantee that you will never fall victim to identity theft, the US Federal Trade Commission recommends a three step system to limit your risk: Deter, Detect, Defend.
Remaining vigilant about safeguarding your personal information is the best way to deter identity thieves. By limiting the information that a potential thief can acquire you limit their ability to steal and use your identity.
Don’t allow yourself to fall for phishing scams. Don’t give out your personal information over the phone, online, or through the mail. If you receive an unsolicited E-mail requesting that you click on a link to go to a website to enter your information delete the E-mail immediately and don’t follow the link.
Protect your social security number by not carrying it around with you or writing it down where someone can find it. Only give your social security number when absolutely necessary.
Keep your personal information secure in a safe place. If you are going to discard paperwork with personal information be sure to shred the paperwork first.
Be wary of red flags that indicate that someone may be using your identity. This includes things like missing mail, unexpected credit card or loan bills, calls from creditors for debts that you did not authorize, or sudden changes in your credit report.
Order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months and review it for inaccuracies. You can get your free copy at www.annualcreditreport.com
or call 877-322-8228. Inspect the report carefully looking for any entries that are not legitimate.
In the event that you suspect that there may be a problem there are immediate steps that need to be taken. Visit http://www.helium.com/knowledge/10100-when-you-become-a-victim-of-identity-theft for detailed information into the steps that should be taken immediately. In a nutshell, contact the credit bureaus directly and place a fraud alert upon your files. Close all affected accounts immediately and dispute any transactions that may not be your own. Also file a police report.
The US Federal Trade Commission provides these suggestions for helping you to protect yourself from identity theft. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of this quickly growing crime. While nothing can guarantee that you will never become a victim there are several things you can do.