ID Theft Tips

What is ID theft? ID theft is the using of someone elses’ name other that your own for personal reasons, malicious reasons or to escape punishment. A personal reason would be financial gain, where they would profit from use another person’s good name. Another personal reason would be to obtain credit from using someone elses’ name would give them a good credit score allow them to easily obtain something tangible by having a good credit score. A malicious reason would to to get revenge for a wrong that they feel the didn’t deserve or just to simply ruin someone’s reputation because they disliked them. To escape punishment from committing some crime like robbery or worse harmful acts on another person.

It has become an increasingly common crime and it appears to increase daily, with no end in site. It should also be noted that it is one of the hardest crimes to prosecute because it is hard to prove and the offenders usually just move to another identity when the current one is burnt. It can possibly take years to correct an ID theft infraction from your record. It is very also quite costly financially to repair. The statistics of the number of ID theft cases would shock you. Everyone knows at least one person in their life that has been a victim of ID theft.

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Even the the strictest precautions you may still have your ID stolen at some point in your life. The most susceptible group are young children and senior citizens. Why you may ask, well it is quite simple. The moment that we come into to world, we are issued a social security number and if an ID thief gets a hold of the name and number, they would then use that name and number to obtain and build credit. By the time that it is found out that name and number is ruined and they move on to another. It takes years because by the time that person who actually uses the number issued at birth is when they apply for a job or drivers’ license, that is years after birth.

Seniors citizens are prone because they forget things more frequently and are more trusting and naive to scammers trying to get their personal information.

Here are some tips to help prevent becoming a victim of ID theft:

  1. Look at and review your credit report at least annually for accuracy. You can get one a year from the three big credit agencies through www.annualcreditreport.com for free.

  2. Don’t provide personal information over the phone no matter how much you are threatened or coerced, especially if you didn’t initiate the call.

  3. Check your postal mail promptly and only put your postal mail in an official postal service collection box or take it directly to the post office.

  4. Rather than just throwing out old mail, old credit/debit cards, old bills, old statements and receipts. You should invest in a crosscut shredder to shred these items with your personal information on them, before discarding them. One of the most common ways for the thieves to get your personal information is  to rummage through your trash.

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  1. Don’t carry unnecessary personal information on your person when out and about in your daily lives, especially if you are not traveling in your normal environment.

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  1. Review bank and financial statements frequently to check for inaccuracies and suspicious activity.

  2. Be very careful of “winning” sweepstakes or lottery notices especially when you have never heard of that particular entity or it is from out of state or country. They usually end up asking you to verify your name, bank account or to provide them with some other identifying information.

  3. When surfing the internet beware of these sites privacy policy. Make sure when entering personal information or credit/debit card information that it is legitimate and the information is being transmitted securely. For it to be transmitted securely, the address bar starts out with https:// or has a padlock displayed in the browser address bar or somewhere on the status bar below the browser, this varies depending on the version and brand of browser that you are using.

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  1. Only shop at known online sites that shows the correct url (Universal Resource Locator, ie web address) in the address bar at the top of the browser. Sites have been know to mimic legitimate sites, so be aware of a site that appears to be legitimate but does not display the proper url address.

  2. When creating and using passwords online make them as random and complex as you can. The more complex it is the less of a chance that it can be figured out.

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  1. Don’t provide ID, passwords or other personal information in unsolicited calls or emails. A legitimate request is always in person at a legitimate establishment.

  2. While going through a secured transaction online don’t open a new browser window until the secured transaction is finished and you have logged out and clearing your browser cache wouldn’t hurt.

  3. Use firewalls when feasible and invest in a good malware/antivirus software to help prevent a breach.

  4. Don’t delay in reporting lost or stolen debit/credit cards.

  5. Don’t write your pin numbers, it is better to memorize it. Also don’t make them easily guessable like a birthday or something simple like “password” or “1234”.

  6. Be sure to sign new cards on the signature line as soon as you get them.

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  1. Never leave credit/debit cards in the glove compartment.

  2. Don’t lend out your debit/credit cards. Credit cards are safer to use for purchases online, stores or restaurants because if a debit card was used for a bogus transaction it is harder to retrieve funds since they get taken out right away. A credit card transaction can take a few days to get posted.

  3. Be wary over your surroundings when making transactions involving you divulging personal information whether financial or identifying information. Make sure someone is not looking over your shoulder or spying on your transaction with a binoculars, camera that can zoom in to see clearly. I am not saying you should get paranoid, just careful.

  4. Lastly secure a way to help restore, fix and deal with involved parties in case of a breach of your identity. Like for instance ID Shield and LegalShield.

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