Protect Against Identity Theft

How can you protect against Identity Theft?  As we all know, Identity Theft is when someone uses our personal identifying information without our permission. The thief might obtain credit or open bank accounts in our name, make purchases using our credit card or even acquire a fake driver's license or Social Security card in our name.

As easy as it can be to steal a person's identity, it is also relatively easy to help protect against identity theft. Or rather, so long as the individual makes a conscious effort, it is relatively easy to protect against identity theft.  One way to protect against identity theft is to find out if there have been any new accounts or loans opened up in your name.   Check with one of the three major credit bureaus and have a copy of your credit report sent to you to protect against identity theft.  Unfortunately, many people do this only after part of the damage has already been done.  Prevention is better than cure.  Whilst it may seem a nuisance to check with the three major credit reporting bureaus periodically, the time taken to do that is much less than the time in attempting to clear up your credit rating.   It is surely better to protect against identity theft than spend more time, estimated at 300 hours, repairing your credit rating after discovering you have been a victim of identity theft.  Also, you should never give away your social security number to any business or individual unless it is absolutely necessary. 

Protect against identity theft

Protect Against Identity Theft - Guard your Mail and Card Details.

To help protect against identity theft, you should never carry your social security card or any extra credit cards unless it is absolutely necessary.  Another step that can be taken to protect against identity theft is to shred, tear, or burn any old bills or documents that have personal information on them.  By far the best method to protect against identity theft in this respect is to shred, with the other methods being a poor second.  With this step being taken, a criminal can still go through your rubbish searching for personal documents, but they will not be of much use.  If you invest in a shredder, crosscut paper shredders or confetti cut shredders are the ones to buy.  If you are going to shred, shred properly with this type of shredder.

Another way to protect against identity theft is, when receiving bills in the mail, to carefully scrutinize them to make sure that no unauthorized transactions have occurred. Another way to protect against identity theft is to use your common sense.  It is smart to avoid talking in public about private accounts; it is smart to only deposit mail in secure places, most ideally inside of a post office.  Also you should always try to make account passwords difficult enough that they cannot be guessed by anybody else and also try to memorize your Social Security number so that the card does not have to be carried around and possibly get lost.  Finally, file an ID theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission.  By doing this, the FTC lets most major companies and organizations knkow that a person’s identity has been stolen.   The best way to protect against identity theft is to remain on top of the information in your credit profile and also to try and keep a good record of daily transactions involving identity information.

Protect Against Identity Theft - Guard your Social Security Number

There are several key factors to protect against identity theft . To begin with guarding your Social Security number is an important factor in safeguarding against Identity theft.  Give out your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary or when required by law.  Everyone aged twenty five years and older can expect to receive a Social Security statement in the mail each and every year.  Check it thoroughly for any discrepancies. Also, you should always memorize your PIN numbers.  When creating passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs), do not use the last four digits of your Social Security number, your birthday, your mother's maiden name or anything else that could easily be discovered by thieves. Do not write down your PINs or passwords. Instead, commit them to memory.

Another precaution to take to protect against identity theft is to always shred away or finely tear any documents that contain personal information. This includes bank statements, credit reports, credit card offers, charge receipts, insurance forms, checks and bank statements. Also, never carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or purse, unless you need it. As a precaution, make copies of your credit cards, and record your bank and investment account numbers.  Keep this information in a secure place, along with the telephone numbers for customer service or the fraud department for each, so you can quickly notify them if an issue arises. Thoroughly check your credit card and bank statements every month for unauthorized or fraudulent activity. You should also pay attention to your billing cycles, and follow up with your bank or creditors if bills or statements don't arrive on time.  A missing bill or statement could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.  Identity thieves have been known to raid mailboxes for personal information.  Promptly remove delivered mail from your mailbox. Deposit outgoing mail in post office mailboxes or at your local post office, rather than leaving it in your mailbox. If you are going to be away from home for an extended time, ask the post office to hold your mail. 

Protect Against Identity Theft - Lottery scams, Phishing and Nigerian "419" Scams.

Apart from the need to protect yourself against identity theft, don't EVER respond to emails that arrive "out of the blue" telling you that you have won a lottery you never bought a ticket for, or some other stroke of good fortune.  Do not believe anyone who claims to have been given your name so that money can be transferred to your account for a generous commission.  These are multi-billion dollar scams and the money lost is never recovered.  Some of the worst scams are known as Nigerian or 410 scams.  Also, never divulge personal information on the phone or the Internet, unless you have initiated the contact and know the company is reputable.  Speaking of the internet, or Information Technology, always have a firewall on your computer.  A firewall on your computer may help to prevent hackers from obtaining personal identifying information and financial data from your hard drive.  Before disposing of your computer, remove data by using a strong "wipe" utility program.  Don't rely solely on the delete function to remove files containing sensitive information.  Also, Review your credit report at least once a year to check for errors and fraudulent use of your account.

You have been warned but it is  up to the individual, and it is his or her responsibility, to protect against identity theft.