Monday, December 11

Preventing Identity Theft – Important Facts

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Preventing identity theft is serious business these days. It is a crime that has been quickly escalating over the past several years and is now one of the most common crimes reported. This makes perfect sense, though, since digital media has made personal information more accessible to anyone who knows how to properly use the technological tools available. Ironically, though, a majority of security breaches where personal information becomes vulnerable does not involve the internet, as you might think. In fact, many people actually voluntarily give up their information because they are not careful in securing it.

For example, did you know that many people gain access to your accounts simply by obtaining your personal information through normal means? When you enter your PIN at an ATM, someone might be standing a little too close. Professional thieves are skilled at this kind of observation. Similarly, when you receive physical mail, are you disposing of it properly by shredding it? If not, a thief could potentially rifle through your garbage or recycling bin and extract what information you may have left behind. Shredding your documents is indeed one of the most effective ways of preventing identity theft.

Similar to physical evidence, you also need to make sure that you do not leave behind traces of your digital self. This applies to your interactions online. Preventing identity theft digitally entails simply making sure that you clear off device memory before giving it to other people. With old computers and even portable hard drives, you can leave behind traces of nearly everything you did while you owned that device. Whether you are giving your computer away, trading it, or even disposing of it, you want to make sure that you not only restore the original hard drive image but also use special shredding or deletion software.

If you suspect that someone might be getting into your mail, then you might want to avoid paying your bills that way. If you like to write checks to pay your bills, you might want to take your envelopes to the post office instead of leaving them in the mailbox for your mail carrier. This is one of the most fool proof ways of preventing identity theft as you are fully in control of your mail until it is secured within the post office. This way thieves can’t get any of your vital information including name, address, phone number and Social Security Number, as well as your checking account or credit card number.

Finally, preventing identity theft can be easier if you monitor your credit report. The 2010 reform now provides everyone a single peek at their credit report for free every year. This helps you to make sure that the information is accurate and up to date but also that there are no mistakes. Sometimes the information is wrong, which ends up costing you money. Of course, monitoring your credit will also expose to you any suspicious activity on your account so that you can report it to the necessary authorities.

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