Real World Identity Theft Protection Methods
Real World Identity Theft Protection Methods
Identity theft happens so frequently that FBI considered it as the fastest growing crime issue in America. Thieves fraudulently use and steal the addresses, names, SSNs, credit card numbers, bank account information, and some personal information of millions of individuals every year. To avoid identity theft, learning how those thieves get your personal information is the very first step you should take to protect yourself.
When it comes to corporate world, thieves make headlines by breaking into huge consumer databases and get numerous names in the form of data breaches. It may also occur from the inside as there are insiders who might use an access of an employer to credit reporting information to obtain personal data or acquire information directly from the trash or files of the employer. Employees can be also bribed or conned by outsiders to steal information.
In terms of personal level, identity theft is a bit less publicized once it occurs to an individual, yet the number of ways that identity theft may occur on this level is distressing. The simplest way involves stealing your wallet or digging your trash. Identity theft may also be as easy and simple as peering over anyone’s shoulder as they utilize an ATM machine. Other sophisticated methods include targeting information of the deceased by using obituaries, diverting or stealing your mail, as well as getting bank account or credit card information through skimming, which is a high-tech theft who uses a particular electronic device when stealing information from your bank account or credit card.
Generally, skimming happens once your credit card is used when making a purchase and the one who processes your card may use a skimmer to get personalized access information. Skimmers are also found on ATMs. Aside from skimming, phishing is also one of the widely publicized methods of personal ID theft. Phishers steal information by creating a website that appears to be very similar to a reliable enterprise’s site and send emails out to lure anyone to enter their contact information. Then, thieves will use the information in any way they want.
What Happens Once Your Identity Was Stolen?
When identity thieves steal your personal information, they become you through assuming your financial identity. Criminals who are less sophisticated consider spending spree using your credit cards and sometimes open new credit cards in your name, establishing cell phone accounts, and writing checks.
Thieves who are experienced and more sophisticated will do more than spending your money by using your name or full identity to do anything they need or want. They will get personal identification including a driver’s license and utilize it when taking out car loans, opening bank accounts or filing for bankruptcy to avoid eviction from an apartment or a house. They can also use your personal date to make payments. So, what’s the best defense you can do to avoid it?
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Avoiding Identity Theft
Though high-profile hackings of corporate databases may suggest that no one is safe from identity theft, there are several precautions that can reduce the odds of being victimized. One of these is to protect your SSN or Social Security Number, which is a critical part of personal information. Never print it on any kind of personal identification. Don’t print it on your checks and only use it when needed. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet and avoid utilizing your SSN as your personal identifier if possible. Even if medical clinics, colleges, employers, and some entities often require your SSN, better think twice before you give it. You never know who will access to your information.
Another way of protecting yourself from identity theft is by protecting your mail. You can do this by reducing the amount of unsolicited offers. When you are on a vacation, cancel mail delivery. If you don’t, your mails can be a tempting target of thieves. Outgoing mails also need protection. When writing a mail and a check to your credit card company, never include information that’s complete enough for someone to utilize. You may only write your account number’s last 4 digits and your credit card company will be the one to identify you.
The Bottom Line
Being an identity theft victim can be devastating not only because your money will be stolen, but also your name can be used in crimes. Identity thieves are skilled when searching for targets. Because of this, it is always wise to be knowledgeable and more alert when protecting yourself.