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Avoid Identity Theft Today

Updated on May 1, 2011

Smile : You are on CCTV…

Identity Theft - Do You Know Who is Watching You? These days, it is reckon that you appear on some form of CCTV at least thirty times every day, either at work, in shops or while traveling about. Like it or not, somebody is always watching you. However, you might not realise it, but you could be being watched by others who are out to gain access to your bank details or even worse steal your whole identity.

Are You Careless?

Most people are still quite careless when it comes to protecting their personal information. Perhaps, we think it will never happen to us. Yet, it is really easy to get hold of people details. Do you know who is watching you? Who is looking over your shoulder while you are entering your security pin number into that ATM cash machine? Has somebody been through all your trash/rubbish to find old bank statements, personal documents or shopping receipts?

But, It Will Never Happen to Me :

Surely, it will never happen in my neighbourhood. Well, it's a lot easier for somebody to gain our personal information than we think. For example, you are busy shopping in the main street or the mall, and need extra cash to purchase those new shoes you must have. Did you realise that anybody sitting in the window seats of that cafe just opposite can see you entering your pin numbers into the cash machines if you are not careful?.

Even worse, someone with a video camera could record a couple of hundred people using the cash machines at a busy lunchtime or Saturday afternoon, and re-play the tape slowly to get a good look at you entering your precious pin number.

Of course, we are not all careless when using a cash machine. Males are more likely to try to cover up the keypad with their arm or stand closer to the machine making it harder to see the numbers they are entering.

Remembering Your Pin :

On the other hand, females seem to have problems remembering pin numbers, and often keep the numbers in their purses or on scraps of paper or notebooks. They also tend to stand further away (perhaps due to the large number of shopping bags) from the ATM cash machine than their male counterparts when entering pin numbers making it easier for somebody to copy their numbers. Females also frequently enter the numbers more slowly, probably to make sure they have put in the correct pin. But this cautious approach also gives people time to work out your numbers.

PIN or personal identification numbers are often 4-digit numbers in the range 0000-9999 resulting in 10,000 possible numbers, so that an attacker would need to guess an average of 5000 times to get the correct PIN. However, if they already know your number because you have become complacent about your own personal security, then you're asking for trouble. Don't let anybody see your pin number at cash points or in shops. Equally, don't write it down and put it in your wallet or purse nor ever give out your pin number on the internet, over the phone or by e-mail.

Skimming Your Card :

Okay, somebody has got my pin number, what are they going to do with it? Well, there is various methods of skimming or copying your cash card's details while its in the machine, which the person behind you removes after you have done your transaction. Once they have this the can make a copy of your card, and use your pin to access and empty your account.

Let’s Talk Trash :

Another area most of us fail to take proper measures to keep our personal information secure is our household rubbish bins. We are all guilty of binning items such as bank and credit card statements and other bills without making any attempt to hide or destroy important information, which any unscrupulous person could use to gain access to your bank account or use your credit card on the internet as "cardholder not present" transaction.

Smelly Nappies and All :

And don't think anybody wouldn't go through you bin. Identity theft is a major global business, and our laid back attitude makes us all prime targets for such thefts. The remains of last week's Sunday dinner and several really smelly disposable baby nappies is not going to deter these people. They will go to any length to gain your person information. Our lax, it will never happen to us, attitudes makes us prime targets for this sort of crime.

But, what do we do with all those ancient bank statements, old tax forms, last year's wage slips, till receipts, and personal information that soon fills up our kitchen or sideboard drawers? Of course, if you have coal/wood fire you could burn a few at time, but don't throw on a whole drawer full of old bank statements on the fire in one go, otherwise you are likely to have a visit from the local Fire Brigade to put out a chimney fire.

Eliminate the Doubt : Shred It

The best way to get rid of your documents is to purchase a small paper shredder and shred your old bills and statements on a regular basis. This method is virtually guarantees that all your personal details can't be obtained from your discarded mail. Some modern shredders also do debit and credit cards too. Of course, you can always cut down all this paperwork in your house by cancelling all your monthly statements from the banks and view your accounts online on the internet. It also helps save half a rain forest and the planet too.

Identity Theft is Big Business :

So, next time you're entering your pin number at a ATM cash point, always be aware of who is watching you, and think before for you trash all your old bank statements and till receipts. Identity theft is a growing business, so please think carefully about what you are throwing away in your trash – it may not be trash to somebody else.

If you think you been the victim of Identity theft, contact your bank(s) immediately to stop any more money been taken.

© David Lloyd-Jones 2010


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    • profile image

      Jeff_McRitchie 6 years ago

      Thanks for posting this. There's some really helpful information in it especially regarding PIN numbers.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi Midnight Oil, David! I told you in the forums that I'd be over, so here I am. This hub is a great find for me since I was phished not too long ago.

      I wrote a hub about it and am far more cautious with my information than I used to be. I've only just started using a computer-1 year now-so I'm sure there are many scams I'm not yet aware of, but I'm open to every suggestion.