Identity theft is a serious crime that is unfortunately becoming common by the day. Identity theft takes place when an individual’s personal information, such as Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, and so on, is stolen and used to commit a fraud without the owner’s authorization or knowledge. The most common kind of fraud associated with identity theft today involves credit cards theft where the perpetrator or perpetrators make purchases with the victim’s credit card details, leaving them with hefty bills to pay.
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent identity theft and the following tips should make it extremely difficult for anyone to become a victim of identity theft:
Preventing Identity Theft
1. Destroying documents before throwing them in the trash
Going through people’s trash is one strategy thieves use to obtain bank and credit card details. Before discarding documents that may contain personal information in the trash, make sure you destroy them completely. Investing in a shredder is a great idea as it will destroy your documents superbly.
2. Being careful with internet sites that require personal information
In this day and age where most transactions are taking place over the internet, it is wise to practice caution when giving out security passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information. Avoid hyperlinks that come with strange emails or strange emails that ask for such details. Only give your personal details to sites you have used before or sites you can access directly.
3. Using complex/strong passwords
Using complex passwords that are hard to guess can be a very effective way to protect yourself from identity theft. Strong passwords protect bank accounts and credit cards from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. A strong password should be composed of a combination of numbers, capital letters and small letters. Abstain from using your name or birth year.
4. Keeping personal information private
Refrain from giving your personal details to people you can’t trust, especially to mail and phone solicitors you aren’t familiar with. If you really have to carry your details in your purse or wallet, be extra careful lest you become the next victim of identity theft. Thieves know for a fact that people carry their personal details in their wallets and will stop at nothing to get their hands on the information.
5. Monitoring credit reports regularly
Credit reports should be monitored at least once a year to ensure there is no strange credit history. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually and taking advantage of this opportunity is the surest ways to avoid identity theft.
Steps To Follow If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Should you discover that your identity has been stolen, the first thing you should so is to contact the police to report the crime and to contact your bank/banks and all your credit card companies to lock your bank accounts and to cancel your credit cards. Acting promptly is of utter importance as it will prevent the perpetrators from doing more damage.
All in all, if you are a victim of identity theft, you can always repair your credit with a company like Lifelock, but this might take some time and a lot of effort.