Below are tell-tale signs you should be wary of to safeguard yourself against identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Before tackling the tips that can help you avoid identity theft, let’s consider first what this threat to your personal and financial security really is.
Identity theft is actually the illegal possession and use of another person’s name, Social Security Number, Personal Identification Number, credit card account, bank account details and contact information. It has been one of the fastest growing crimes committed against credit consumers, usually without their knowledge. In fact, it is estimated that in the Unites States alone, there are more than 10 million citizens who got ripped off by the schemes and illegal machinations of identity thieves.
But how do scammers and fraudsters get away with their illegal activities? Well, the easiest way to do this is to gain access to your personal and financial information. They may steal your wallet, hack your online profiles and accounts, collect information by pretending to be representatives of your bank or credit card issuer, and even by digging through your garbage. Some crafty individuals may also employ special devices and software to spy on your activities. They may attach scanners in automated teller machines or ATMs, and even use imposter sites to gather highly-confidential information from unsuspecting consumers.
5 Warning Signs
You can tell that you fell as a victim to one of the schemes of identity thieves, if:
- Your mail (either your snail mails or electronic messages) does not reach you;
- There are unauthorized charges or withdrawals made on your credit card or bank account, based on the items found in your credit card billing statements and even in your bank passbook;
- Your creditors call you due to inconsistencies in your credit information;
- Your application for a new credit program, either for a personal loan or for a credit card, has been disapproved; and
- You receive notices for a new credit card, which you have not applied for.
So, watch out for these five signs of identity theft. And if you have suspicions that someone has gained illegal access to your credit or bank information, contact the bank or card issuer and request for the immediate freezing of your credit card, savings or checking accounts. By doing so, you can prevent the unauthorized party from making additional charges or withdrawals from your accounts.
Some Last Minute Reminders
To safeguard your personal, contact and financial information, always keep the following tips in mind:
- Make it a habit to keep your bills, receipts, and other financial records away from other people. In so doing, you can prevent them from using your highly-sensitive information for illegal purposes.
- Transact business only in shops and stores that are equipped with excellent security mechanisms.
- Don’t disclose your personal and credit information in shopping sites UNLESS you have thoroughly checked their privacy and security settings.
- Be ready to dispute errors or negative items in your billing statements and annual credit reports, especially if you think that such entries may ruin your chances of qualifying for affordable credit deals, later on.
- Always keep the security software in your computer up-to-date. Bear in mind that such applications can serve as your first level of defense against hackers and the software they use to spy on your online transactions.
Continue reading other id theft resources:
Spot the early signs of Credit Fraud & Identity Theft
GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT