Ways & How

How to Prevent Identity Theft

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft is when someone assumes the identity of another person by using the latter’s information and credentials. It is common with transactions involving money, such as with credit cards, and the hapless victim finds out that their identity has been used only after they are saddled with a bill for items they never ordered or bought. Not only it is an inconvenience to set things straight, there are often feelings of disappointment because, in many cases, the victim knows the person who stole their identity. Here are some tips on how to prevent identity theft.

  1. Limit the release of your information

    In this age of social networking and online transactions, it can be very easy for bad people to gain access to your information. This is quite obvious when you give out your email address to one company for a purpose but then get junk mail from other companies because your email address was sold to others without your consent. When you check in at a location through your social networking sites, a lot of people will know where you are and that you are not at home.

    A big factor in the successful prevention of identity theft is making sure that your identifying information is not accessible to the public.

    Mailers are annoying and should be tossed away, but before you do so, make sure that they do not contain your information. Convenience checks and pre-approved credit cards that were mailed to you have tempted dumpster divers to use them by pretending to be you. Shred those items, including bills, ATM receipts, and flyers. Lock your mailbox or avoid having sensitive things sent there altogether. You can pick them up from the bank directly or have them sent to a P.O. Box where you can pick them up at the post office. Scrutinize your documents to see where your information can be removed. For example, your checks do not need your address, account number, or Social Security number on them. You can have yourself removed from the phonebook and other directories. Cancel the credit cards you don’t use, and do not keep all of them in your wallet every time you go out.

  2. Secure your information

    Identity theft is only possible when the perpetrator has possession of your information. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you do not give out your information on channels that are not secure. There are two common ways that information can be gotten from unsuspecting victims—phishing and pharming. Phishing happens when you inadvertently access a fake website. Pharming is when a person is redirected to a bogus websites. In both cases, the victim unknowingly enters their password and other information on the unsecure site, and then it is used for nefarious purposes. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the website you are on has the Verisign secure seal. Look at the URL of the site carefully. A secure site usually starts with https instead of the usual http. Fake sites can look very much the same as the real site and the difference could just be two transposed letters in the URL.

    Passwords are another way for identity thieves to access information. Make sure that your password for sensitive sites are tough to crack by making them long and mixed with capital letters, small letters, special characters, and numbers. It should be easy for you to remember, so you don’t have to write it down where another person can see it. For example, Platform$4life should be easy to remember for a shopaholic. Create separate passwords for each site involving financial transactions.

In the unfortunate event that you fall prey to an identity thief, make sure that an alert is issued to all three credit bureaus so that banks know the correct contact number to call in case the thief tries to open an account with your information. Monitor your credit card statements and check online accounts regularly, so you can spot suspicious transactions immediately. With these tips on how to prevent identity theft, you will learn how to be vigilant with your personal data.


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