With more than 11 million cases of ID theft per year in the US only, this is becoming alarming problem throughout the entire world. Criminals gather private information about people and use to perform financial transactions and withdrawals. To restore your reputation after being victim of identity theft is not easy and consumes time, as well as money.
How to protect yourself from ID theft?
Although, it is relatively simply to protect your identity information from being stolen, it seems many people don’t take advantage of this and fall victims of online scammers. Here are simple tips to protect this sensitive information:
- If you live in the US never carry your social security card. This could provide easy opportunity for criminals to take advantage of it, so give it away only when its absolutely necessary.
- Try to remember your PIN instead of writing it. Keeping notes of your PIN code in your wallet, will allow criminals, who steal it to gain access to your credit cards. Also remember that the issuer bank or any other financial institution for that matter, will not ask you to provide your PIN.
- Be careful when you make card payments or withdrawals. Always make sure no one watches you when enter your PIN code at the ATM and also make card payments only at places with established reputation. The same is valid for online shopping – always check the reputation of the store before making any online purchases to avoid nasty surprises.
- Keep track of card billing cycles and also on ATM receipts. These are the places where you can easily notice suspicious activity.
- Always store personal information in a safe place. There are many ways to store your personal information without risking it falling at the wrong hands. The best way is to use encrypted file format or write it down and keep it in a safe place.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited emails, phone calls and mails – always check the sender before replying to any email and avoid providing any personal information at all costs.
- Install/Update firewall and anti-virus software. Typically, these are the most effective software solutions for preventing ID theft when using your computer. Most of the time you will be fine with only these two, but sometimes you might need to install specialized spyware removal software.
How to report ID theft?
If you wallet is missing or you have noticed any suspicious activity in your financial statements, you might have become a victim of ID theft. The best thing to do here, is to follow these 3 steps:
- Call your bank or other financial institution. There is usually a special number for reporting stolen credit cards and fraud activities, so check your statements or on the back of your credit card.
- Call the local police. Explain them that you had possibly become victim of ID theft and they will provide you with report on the case. You can use this later on, since it might be required by some financial institutions.
- Call the credit-reporting bureau. There you can ask them to flag your account as fraud and prevent any financial transactions from without your consent
What are the dangers of ID theft?
From stealing all your money to taking loans on your behalf, are just some of the ways criminal take advantage of your personal data. You can read more about the dangers related with ID theft and other tips to protect personal information from this infographic.
Infographic Source: Identity Theft Infographic: The Dangers of Identity Theft