Identity theft is the stealing of one’s personal information with the intention to commit fraud. It’s a serious problem that affects millions people around the world. Here are its dangers and what you can do to protect yourself from it:
Dangers of Identity Theft
Financial gain is one of the major reasons why identity thieves steal people’s personal information. Some of the damaging things they do include duplicating your ATM cards and withdrawing all your money, applying for a loan in your name, or even making a counterfeit cheque using your account. Other than leaving you broke, this can really put you in trouble with your bank.
On Credit Card
Identity thieves may change your credit card’s billing address to prevent you from receiving your monthly statements, as we’ll as finding out that your card is being utilized fraudulently. In addition, they may even get a new credit card in your name to continue enjoying money that doesn’t belong to them. All these can really affect your credit report and reputation negatively. We suggest subscribing to one of the many credit protection companies to help monitor your credit for fraudulent activity.
On Identification Documents
When thieves steal your official ID cards such as social security card and driver’s license, they replace your picture with theirs, but retain your name. With these documents, they can steal your benefits, and even file fake tax returns in your name, which will only bring you more trouble.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Thieves
Be Careful of the Links You Click
You shouldn’t click links that you’re not familiar with. There are numerous sites that will try to convince you to enter sensitive personal information like bank account or credit card number, stay away from such sites. If you find suspicious emails that only contain links, don’t click on them.
Change Your PIN Numbers and Password Frequently
Ensure that you change your passwords and PIN numbers on a regular basis for instance, every 3 months. Make them different for every account and very strong, containing both letters, numbers and symbols. This makes it harder for thieves to discover the codes, thus lowering your chances of being their victim.
Carry Only Important Documents With You
Carrying essential documents like birth certificate, passport, extra credit cards or Social Security card wherever you go, can make you vulnerable to identity theft. When they fall in the wrong hands, your entire identity will be at risk of being stolen. Even though you may recover the money stolen by these thieves, a stolen identity could send you to jail. Therefore, unless you need such documents for a specific purpose, it’s wise that you always keep them at home.
Thieves Treasure Your Trash
Before throwing away documents containing sensitive information such as credit card offers, receipts, returned checks, and bank statements, make sure you shred them to small pieces to make it hard for anybody to retrieve your personal data.
Never Disclose Sensitive Information Over the Phone
Identity thieves may call you posing as government or bank agents. Don’t give anybody your personal information unless you’re the one who initiated the call.
Use these simple tips to reduce your chances of being a victim of identity theft.