Keeping your identity safe is important. If someone else is able to get their hands on your sensitive identification information, not only can they pretend to be you for all intents and purposes, but they can also take your money, your credit and your entire life The anonymity of this crime makes many people feel helpless to prevent it.
There is no need to be hopeless though. There are some easy ways that you can keep your identity safe, starting today, that can make a world of difference in protecting your information. Here are the Top 10 ID theft prevention tips that you can implement today to help to make your identity safer.
1. Don’t carry extra credit or debit cards
Do you have one primary account that you use for spending? Then keep that one card with you and lock up whatever other ones you may have in a safe location at home where thieves won’t think to look. Not only does this make it harder for an identity thief to get their hands on all of your accounts, but it will also improve your spending habits.
2. Crosscut shredders are a must have in your home
We all like to joke about the guy who got his tie caught in the shredder, but those old shredders really don’t do anything. Straight line cut paper is easy to remove from your trash that is curbside and can be easily taped together by an identity thief. Look for a crosscut shredder that spits out tiny little pieces of paper. This will discourage an identity thief to no end.
3. Recycle Your shredded information
Taking your personal papers that have been shredded and dumping them into a huge recycling bin full of paper eliminates the curbside thief. Mixed up with literally tons of other paper, your identity simply gets lost in the mix.
4. Never carry your Social Security card
The only reason why you need a Social Security card with you is to provide a copy of it to a new employer, and even then you could make the copy at home. Other companies may request your Social Security card for verification of who you are, but you can request alternative methods of identification.
5. Use one time credit card numbers while online shopping
Many credit card companies offer an online shopping service where they will assign your account a unique number that is good for one purchase only that you have authorized. This prevents identity thieves from getting your actual credit card number if you happen to have spyware of keylogging software inadvertently installed on your computer.
6. Don’t surf the internet without anti-virus, anti-spyware, a firewall, and anti-malware software installed.
The internet is a dangerous place thanks to the actions of a few, so to keep yourself safe while working, surfing, and playing online, be sure to have all the protective services properly installed and updated on your computer. Identity thieves have even started to create viruses that affect Apple’s O/S, so always remember that every computer you own is a potential target.
7. Keep a list of all your financial account numbers locked away.
If you do happen to lose your wallet or purse, or you suspect you have become the victim of identity theft, time is of the essence. By having this information easily accessible, you can simply grab your list and start making calls instead of fumbling around on the internet and through your files trying to find it after the fact.
8. Don’t give out any information to people you don’t know.
Why would someone you not know or a company you’ve never done business with need your identification information? To steal your identity, that’s why! If you don’t know who is asking for your info, don’t give it to them until you’ve verified the authenticity of their request.
9. Beware aware of “phishing.”
Phishing is one of the biggest causes of identity theft around today. Identity thieves get you to give them your information through a bogus e-mail or even phone call demanding you verify your information to save an account you might have with a legitimate business. You talk to a convincing person on the phone or you get transferred to a legitimate looking website where you “verify” the info, but what you are really doing is simply handing your identity away. You haven’t won anything. Your account will not be closed. You do not ever have to give someone a password or your PIN number. Always, always, always ask questions if you are unsure!
10. Sometimes You Can Share Too Much Information
With the invention of social networking on the internet through the various websites, we tend to get very friendly with a lot of different people who we may not even know personally. All it takes for an identity thief who has friended or followed you to get into your home and take your identification information is for you to post that you’re going to be out for a few hours, that you’re headed out on vacation for a couple weeks, or that you’re in charge of the school carpool for next week.
Chances are you have pictures uploaded of your home that even show your file cabinets, safes, or lockboxes in the background behind a smiling face. Be careful about who you decide to let follow you & friend you, and then be careful about what you share with them. Without intending to do so, you could be setting yourself up for an identity theft incident and not even realize it.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime currently in the United States, and it is growing around the world as well. You can protect yourself against identity theft easily by following these Top 10 guidelines as consistently as possible, while also looking into a credit monitoring protection plan that might fit your extended needs. Identity theft is a $40 billion per year problem – don’t let it cost you too.
Two car dealerships located in Long Island, New York announced settlement with state prosecutors after they it was determined the dealerships were selling add on products to customers, which included illegal credit repair and identity theft protection. The dealers were using misleading and deceptive practices to encourage car buyers to sign up for additional services, while charging them upfront, a violation of state and federal law. Additionally, the dealers were including the cost of these add-on’s in the contract price of the vehicle, where by law, any after sale items must be itemized separately so the customer knows the exact sale price of the car itself.
In total, the two dealerships will be required to refund over $118,000 to customers and pay approximately $10,000 in penalties and fines.
Schneiderman’s office has been cracking down on the practice known as “jamming,” in which unscrupulous dealers sell consumers add-on’s they didn’t request or desire, sometimes concealing the sales from consumers or misrepresenting the services as free.
An attorney for Westbury Jeep Chrysler Dodge and Fiat, Stuart Rosenthal of White Plains, said his client sold credit and identity theft services supplied by a vendor, Credit Forget It, which was shut down last year under a consent order with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office.
“The dealership believed the product was appropriate and legal, and sold it for what it believed was a fair price to consumers,” he said.
Many people make use of the credit monitoring services in order to be alerted to possible credit fraud and ultimately, reduce its negative effects on their finances. To ensure this level of protection, individuals to sign up for a service that will keep tabs on one or several of your major credit reports and notify you when there is a new account that is opened in your name, someone makes an inquiry to your file as well as when other possibly suspicious activities crop up. Most of the credit monitoring packages will also give you access to at least one of your credit scores and reports. For this reason, consumers usually make use of credit monitoring to keep track of their credit building progress.
Various companies are offering credit monitoring services which include the three primary credit bureaus as well as many of the major banks. It is not a big surprise that there is a big market for this kind of product since identity theft is becoming one of the most common complaints from consumers for many years.
Even though credit monitoring will not really prevent identity theft as well as other related loan or credit card loans, it still has the potential of alerting you regarding unauthorized access to your personal information before you start noticing a problem.
How It Works
Although logistics are basically provider specific, the credit monitoring services typically track your credit file and send your alerts when there are changes. Many of the companies are offering these notifications through a phone call, email, or text message, which depends on your preferences.
The forms of activities that credit monitoring services are going to bring to your attention include the following:
- New Accounts
Credit reports note each time a new loan or credit card has been opened under your name. When there is a new account that appears on your file because of the mistake of the creditor or as the result of a fraudulent activity, it is better to know about it right away instead of waiting until you receive a bill through mail.
- Hard Inquiries
Every time you apply for a loan or credit card, the respective financial institution is going to pull your main credit reports, which are referred to as a hard inquiry to your credit history. Any unexpected hard inquiry, like the ones that are not triggered by your application submission, is a sure sign of fraud. The identity thieves are well known for the use of the basic consumer data include the name, address and the Social Security number for opening financial accounts under the names of other people for them to rack up the costly charges and leave it up to the user to clean up the mess they did.
- Changes to the Existing Accounts
You will also receive an alert when your credit report indicates a significant change in your payment and spending habits.
- Changes in Address
A criminal who has the basic biographical information and access to one of your debit or credit cards can officially make changes to the address that you have on your file with the postal service so that they will receive your mail and have better control on your life. Most of the credit monitoring services are going to alert you about this kind of changes so that can easily straighten out the matter before things can get further complicated.
- New Public Records
The information regarding bankruptcies, civil court judgments and tax liens is included on the consumer credit reports and while everyone will hope to spot an identity theft before it can even get this far, the credit monitoring service is going to alert you once someone encounters these forms of difficulties while still impersonating you.
The credit monitoring service is also going to notify you regarding these changes in a matter of 24 hours after they have noted your credit report, which will then fulfill its role as your official identity theft watchdog. As soon as you discover about the possible identity theft, it will be so much better so that you can also initiate the right damage control procedures before the fraud will wreak too much havoc on your financial files.
For the past few years, the companies have also come up with identity theft solutions which as far more comprehensive as compared to what you can get from the traditional services on credit monitoring. For instance, they might also monitor any sex offender registry, activities on your bank account, applications for payday loans, and more. The advent of this kind of services only underscore that there is indeed a growing concern among the consumers when it comes to identity theft in today’s personal financial environment that is becoming more electronic than ever.
The capacity of tracking the progress in credit improvement is also the other primary benefit that you can get out of the use of a credit monitoring service. These services will also provide you with better access to all your credit reports as opposed to just receiving one copy each year and possibly, you might also receive your credit scores at the same time. Most of the monitoring companies usually offer deals with certain credit score providers even though the scores that they will provide are not guaranteed to be the ones that are being used most often by the lenders. This will not just give you the chance of routinely parsing your files for any error for at the same time, this will also allow you to stay updated with your credit standing which will then improve how you are shopping for financial products and determine if the credit building efforts are needed.
As of this moment, some of the major players in the world of credit monitoring include TransUnion, Equifax, Experian, FICO which is a credit scoring company, most of the largest banks of the nation as well as niche businesses including Identity Guard, LifeLock and TrustedID.
Credit monitoring services are no doubt important to keep track of your finances so choose the one that will best suit you.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime which affects millions of people from different parts of the globe. If you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, you should know the best safety measures to protect yourself from this growing crime.
There are several tips you may take for consideration when avoiding identity theft and some of them are as follows:
Tip #1: Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service
Numerous companies offer credit monitoring services to help anyone protect themselves from identity theft. Such services are available at reasonable rates. Depending on your preferences, you can choose any identity theft service provider that offers top notch solutions.
Tip #2: Keep All Your Personal Documents in a Safe
If you have important documents, it is always a wise idea to keep a personal safe for your home and a safety deposit box anywhere. You may utilize your safe at home for protecting items including social security card, passport, and birth certificate.
Tip #3: Protect Your Wallet or Purse at All Times
If you are buying purses, choose the ones that can be closed shut or zipped. Try not to make use of bags that some can easily reach into or see. Also, keep bags close to your body with tight grip all the time. Don’t leave purses or wallets in the car and if possible, don’t leave these exposed and never keep them in an obvious place.
Tip #4: Photocopy Every Content of Your Wallet
It is also a good idea to make copies of your ID cards, credit cards, and other personal documents that you usually keep in your wallet. In addition to that, keep records of all phone numbers to contact in case you have to order replacement items or close accounts.
Tip #5: Remove Yourself from Any Promotional Lists
If you don’t want to end up with stolen identity, start removing yourself from promotional lists including pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists. This added clutter does not do any good. In fact, you just put yourself at risk of identity theft if the stranger gets their hands on pre-approved cards.
Tip #6: Examine All Your Bank Account Statements
If you want to ensure that your bank accounts are all safe, always examine all your bank account statements regularly. If you bank accounts have unauthorized charges, never hesitate to call your chosen bank immediately.
Tip #7: Never Reveal Personal Information to Unverified Sources
Regardless if it’s over the internet or the phone, don’t reveal personal information to any unverified sources. Never feel pressured to answer questions if you don’t trust the source. Also, feel free to make a request for verifying information before giving any information.
Tip #8: Shred All Sensitive Documents Before Throwing Them Away
Before throwing your personal documents, consider shredding them first. Dumpster diving is said to be a common way of stealing personal information. Buy shredders for your home or office and ensure that you destroy any paperwork that contain personal details before you discard them. This includes credit, statements, mail, and even receipts.
Considering those tips above can help you avoid identity theft. Implementing them on your daily routine will allow you to save your personal information from this growing crime.
Download the PDF of this article here Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Credit card fraud is growing at an alarming rate across the globe and most of them involve online transactions. As a matter of fact, credit card fraud online is expected to increase to billions by 2008, based on the analysis of financial experts. This is quite a worrying statistic considering the detailed research as well as efforts from main credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa to prevent this growing fraud.
Typically, credit card fraud is defined as buying products or services from personnel not associated or connected with particular credit card making the transactions. Thus, the merchants are tricked into releasing merchandises or rendering several services to a false identity. The growth of this kind of fraud is still increasing and expected to grow in the long run.
Credit card fraud is a big problem as well as a dilemma within the society today. To reduce the chances of being a victim of credit card fraud, there are several steps you may consider. Subjects may include securing your bank account information, checking statements, keeping the credit cards safe, and verifying your visa card. Some tips may include not giving your PIN or bank passwords to anyone, throwing your bank statements in the bin without shredding it, and many more.
The most typical method used by criminals is targeting cards and other information in offline shops, unsecured online transactions, and in conversation. If you have a credit card, you should not hand over it to anyone. Keep it out from possible fraudsters and don’t write your PIN number. Keeping your credit card in a safe and secure place is also a good idea.
Majority of mail order, internet, and phone fraud happens because of the reason that one’s card details are stolen. Due to this, don’t let your credit card out of sight and pay importance to it if you don’t want to fall from the criminal’s hands.
Keeping your credit card secure and safe can make a huge difference. But, similar to every consultant, fraudsters are also experts in their field and may acquire information from the smallest chance presented to them. So, check your bank statements regularly. When you get your bank statements, check if there are irregular or unauthorized transactions. If the statement presented such fraudulent transactions, call your credit card company or bank at the soonest date and let them know about the illegal activity.
There are other steps you may consider when avoiding credit card fraud. If you don’t want to suffer from the consequences of being a victim of credit card fraud, never forget to do those steps mentioned above and always ensure that your personal information is protected. Today, there are also some companies offering credit card fraud protection services. Depending on your choice, you can try such services to protect yourself from credit card fraud. But, make sure that your chosen provider is reliable and has a good reputation when it comes to providing such solutions as this can make a huge difference in the long run.