Knowing how to prevent identity theft is very important; it´s a crime that can make the victims´ lives extremely difficult. Imagine being accused of a crime you didn´t commit, or being unable to get credit or a passport because someone has stolen your identity. So we all need to do everything possible to prevent identity theft, by protecting information and personal details. Here are some tips on how to prevent identity theft.
Shredding documents and papers you want to discard is one of the best ways to prevent identity theft. It´s well known that thieves search through garbage to find information they can use. So get yourself a personal shredder, which are pretty inexpensive, and shred everything before throwing it away.
Be careful how much information you reveal about yourself on the internet. Remember that you almost always have no idea who you are really talking to, or who will be reading what you post. Thieves only need some fairly basic information to steal your identity, yet too many people post personal details as if they were talking in confidence. Always be cautious.
Protecting your computer is essential when trying to prevent identity theft. Make sure that you have a good anti-virus program and a firewall, and set it to download updates when available. Also be cautious of clicking links in emails, and when purchasing online ensure that you are on a secure page (beginning https) before entering any card details.
Check any bank and savings accounts regularly, even ones you do not use much. If you notice any suspicious activity, such as purchases you do not remember making, enquire with your bank. Sometimes a purchase you made may simply have been charged to a name you do not recognise, but if someone has accessed your account then the quicker you notice, the quicker you can act.
If you dispose of a computer, whether by selling it or recycling, then be aware that it is not enough to delete information from the hard drive. Data can still be retrieved by someone who knows what they are doing. Look into how to wipe the hard drive so that none of your personal information can be restored and used.
We all know that when using ATMs, it´s important to ensure that nobody can see what numbers you press. The same applies when making purchases with a card that requires a PIN. Don´t worry about looking silly, or offending anyone – the important thing is keeping your PIN hidden from anyone around.
A useful tool when you want to prevent identity theft is to check your credit report at least on an annual basis. This will show up if anyone has applied for credit in your name. Victims of identity theft often find that the culprit is someone who has access to their mail, so be vigilant if your mail is not delivered to a secure place.
Finally, be very cautious about revealing information over the phone. Scammers often pretend to be from your bank or another authority, and ask you to ´confirm personal details´ before they can proceed. Their tactics can be very plausible, such as telling you that there has been suspicious activity on your account – the very thing you want to prevent! Call your bank, using the number that you have (not one the caller provides) and check that the call was authentic.
These days, with the use of the internet for shopping and social networking, it is essential to be extremely careful in order to prevent identity theft. Equally, it´s vital to protect information on paper and be aware of the tactics that can be used. We have to be smart and aware, in order to prevent identity theft and not be one of the victims. Do you know anyone who has had their identity stolen?
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