Identity theft is becoming a popular crime in the United States. Cases usually involve names, addresses, bank account information, credit card information, and so on. About 10 million Americans have encountered these problems. This is why the Federal Trade Commission has reminded people to be on guard all the time.
Once someone has stolen your identity, they will take over your financial identity. Usually, this includes spending your money without you knowing. For instance, if a thief steals your credit card information, he / she may make a lot of purchases that will be charged on you. Worse cases of identity theft involve anonymous people making loans and opening bank accounts using your name without again without you knowing. It could get even worse.
So how do you defend yourself from such unscrupulous criminals?
Authorities say that you, like anyone else, are not safe from identity theft. So, authorities have devised certain tactics to lessen your likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim.
1. Hide your social security number. It is difficult to memorize phone numbers, bank account numbers, passwords and social security numbers that sometimes we choose to write them down on a piece of paper. However, when you do so, you become vulnerable to identity theft. What if you leave that number on your table or you drop it somewhere on your way home?
2. Make sure that you sign out your e-mail even when you are at home and most especially when you are using the internet outside. It is extremely careless and irresponsible to leave your email account open when you leave. This is not necessarily an act of paranoia but of precaution. Have you heard of people who could no longer reach their emails because they accidentally left them open? There have been several cases and even the worse could happen. Log out your Facebook or Twitter accounts, too, when you leave your desk.
3. Do not throw your credit card and bank statements anywhere, because they contain some personal information. The safest way to dispose of them is by using a shredder.
4. Do not give your personal information right away. There will be instances where you receive phone calls, text messages, or emails from people you do not know, and they may be telling you about special offers and promos. If they ask for your personal information, do not respond. You have to be smart and alert all the time.
5. Protect your PC by making sure that it is updated. Update your antivirus software program as well. This will protect you from cyber attacks. Beware when downloading files or installing programs, because some of them could include spywares. Another way to protect your computer is to use a password that only you know.
6. Have photocopies of your credit cards and store them in a safe, locked place in your home. If your wallet gets stolen, you should cancel all your credit and debit cards right away. Canceling them would be fast if you provide the needed information without a hassle. In case your credit or debit card gets lost, you must inform your bank immediately.
7. It is also recommended that you double-check your credit report to see if there is any strange activity. Contact the bank and the authorities if you see anything suspicious, like purchases that you do not remember making but appearing on the report.
8. Change the passwords of your email, social media, and online banking accounts regularly. Make sure your passwords are not easy to guess.