The good news is, there are ways in which you can protect yourself from identity theft. The majority of the steps you can take to prevent this crime from happening to you are mostly common sense – if your details are easily accessible, or you give them out, your identity will be stolen and it can cause you some serious problems.
There are a few steps that everybody should take, whether they are worried about this increase in identity theft or not:
*Keep your wallet or purse safe, not only when you are out and about, but also in the house. If it is left next to a window, door or even left in a car, it can be stolen, and this can lead to credit card fraud and other similar crimes.
*Shield your Pin at an ATM. It only takes one person to take a quick peek over your shoulder, and then attempt to steal your card and you can run into serious monetary loss and great debt.
*Buy a shredder. If you are throwing letters and documents in the garbage, someone could easily have a rummage through your trash and steal letters containing information of a personal nature. All it takes for your identity to be stolen is a name and address. Most utility bills and bank statements contain these sorts of details along with bank numbers, date of birth, and more. By shredding all letters etc. that you throw out, you greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
*Do not give personal information out to anyone. If a person comes to your door, calls you at home or at work, or tries to stop you in the street asking for information, do not give any out. You have no idea who these people really are, and for what purposes they intend to use the information you have just given. The best thing to do is smile politely, explain that you are not interested and walk away.
*Do not keep Pin numbers, birth/death/marriage certificates and other personal documentation in your purse, or on your personal being while you are out and about. If somebody steals your wallet/purse, or you lose it, the person that has it or finds it has all of your details in one place and you have a greatly increased risk of being a victim of identity theft. You should ideally keep them locked away in a safe or other such personal place, where only you have access to them.
All of the above are basic common sense, and should be done by everybody anyway, whether you want to protect yourself or not! There are a few more in depth steps you can take, and again, these are very much common sense, but can massively reduce the risk of your identity being stolen.
*Have regular credit checks. This should ideally be done yearly, so you know exactly what your credit score is, and should any of your personal data be stolen and the thief attempts to use it, not only should the credit agency contact you, but you can ensure that you know if something out of place should be happening and have a bettor chance of damage limitation.
*Don’t share files with anyone over the Internet. You never know who or what could be reading your data, and all it takes is one virus to find out your data and there you have it, another victim of identity theft.
*Get good anti-virus software on your computer. Again, you don’t want to become a victim of any scams over the Internet, from viruses and such like. With the added technological advances, comes advances in the way these identity theft criminals work.
*Have different passwords on your programs and different websites. If a thief finds out your password, the chances are, he or she will attempt to use them on other programs etc.
*Keep good records of spending, loan applications etc. This ensures that you know exactly where your money goes, and what credit cards/loans etc. you have applied for, meaning that you will notice the identity theft attempting to access such things quicker.
*Make sure your mailbox is secure. Thieves can and will steal letters etc. from your mailbox if it is not secure. Many things have been reported missing, such as check books, credit cards and Pin numbers etc. all from a secure mailbox. You should also ensure that you ask a person that is reliable and that you trust to empty your mailbox when you go away on vacation for the same reason.
*Get ID Theft insurance. This can greatly reduce the amount of money you will liable for, should identity theft ever occur.
These identity thieves will use your identity for so many things, from credit card fraud, loan applications, illegal immigration to using your name in criminal events and also to blackmail you. Please do not be a victim. A few basic steps and a couple of small changes in your daily routine could mean the biggest difference to your chances of becoming a victim.