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What is Identity Theft...and how to protect yours from identity theft criminals.
Identity Theft is a crime.
What is Identity Theft...and how to protect your identity from criminals.
Quite simply put, identity theft is a serious crime that is punishable by law and involves prison time for the perpetrator, or fraudster.
It occurs when someone obtains your personal information such as your Social Security Number, your credit card number, banking account information or any other financial
information that would enable them to use that information as their own and to "assume" or "steal" your identity. Fraudsters can target anyone, including you. If you have ever
been a victim of identity theft you know the disruption this crime can cause to your finances, your credit history, banking information, and your life!
So how do fraudsters, or "identity thieves" obtain your personal financial information?
They can be as ingenious as anything you can ever imagine.
Some of the ways they can obtain your personal information to steal your identity is as follows:
1. They deftly steal your wallet or purse and then remove all the personal information contained on a driver's licence, credit card, car ownership papers, insurance card, or anything else you have in there,
2. They rummage through your personal trash on trash day trying to find anything containing your sensitive information,
3. They target you as a "mark" that can provide your personal information simply by sending you innocuous emails that seem urgent, important, or "official" requesting that you provide personal information about yourself in order to resolve an outstanding matter.
4. They claim that you have won a lottery or are entitled to receive an inheritance from a dead relative, but you must "confirm your identity" to them before they will release the winnings, or the inheritance to you.
5. They offer you an unsolicited job, or other inducement that is desigend to trick you into releasing your personal information in order to proceed with the "application".
6. They are attendants, or employees of an establishment that accepts debit cards for payment and when you provide your debit card to pay for your purchase, they "double swipe" your card informing you that the first time it did not "go through" so they needed to do it a second time.
7. They are government clerks or employees who have a legitimate, work-related need to know your personal information in order to process your paper work for some matter such as unemployment insurance, or something like that. Once they obtain that information from a legitimate source such as a government agency, they can then use it as their own.
8. Thieves can steal your PIN with intricate software or portable machinery whenever you are not careful in using an ATM to withdraw cash or to pay credit cards.
Any of the above methods can allow a fraudster to steal your personal information and to assume your identity for financial purposes. And with that information about you he can obtain credits cards and other financial instruments without your knowledge. By the time you find out that you have become a victim of identity theft, it may be too late to stop the devastating effects on your life.
What can you do to stop fraudsters from stealing your personal information and therefore your identity?
Here is my nine point plan to safeguard your identity and to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft:
1. Read all paperwork containing personal information you receive from your bank, credit card company aor other financial institutions to ensure that there are no errors contained in it. Follow up with your financial institution on any missing documents or late arriving documents.
2. Shred all paper documents such as credit card statements after reviewing them.
3. Do not dispose of any such documents in your garbage that can attract fraudsters to your door.
4. Read your credit report regularly and identify any unusual or unexpected entries in it and correct any errors in it.
5. Don't open any suspicious emails or those from unknown sources as they could be phishing attempts to steal your online financial information.
6. Make sure that you use passwords for your online activities that are difficult to re-create and will frustrate fraudsters from targeting your files.
7. Makes sure that all your online purcahses, if any, are restricted to those sites that are secure and not a risk to your information.
8. Always use a fire-wall on your computer along with an anti-virus software that runs continually, 24-7, to ensure that your financial information is safeguarded at all times.
9. Safeguard your PIN from prying eyes whenever you use an ATM.
There you have it.
By understanding how identity thieves can target you, it is more possible for you to take steps to protect your personal information and hence your identity.
If you follow these steps you can prevent thieves from making you a victim of identity theft.
Keep vigilent, keep aware, and protect your valuable identity.