Identity Theft and How to Help Prevent It
Violent crime is a huge problem in some areas of our country, but some of the biggest crimes are ones that are considered to be theft. Identity theft, for one, is a huge problem these days not just here in the U.S. but worldwide. Many people do not know how to react or know specifically what to do if they become a victim, or worse, what steps to take in becoming familiar with identity theft prevention in the first place. If you practice some simple solutions in your daily routine, you can save yourself a lot of worry and headaches, or even financial ruin in the future.
Identity theft prevention starts with how you dispose of, or store your personal information. If you understand how easy it might be for someone to assume your identity, you may think twice about some of the daily things that you do. Some people only need your birth date, maiden name, social security number, and perhaps your bank account information or less, to take what you've worked so hard to gain in your life, and obtain credit in your name. As I'm sure you have heard, it is not that difficult for the right person to do, and this is why ID theft happens more often than you may think. In fact, a new victim succumbs to this crime every 2 seconds, yes you heard right, with a reported average of 20 billion a year in losses. With projections going as high as 100 billion in future years, it is imperative that your personal information is kept safe or destroyed in the best possible way.
Protection from identity theft is achievable by remembering many different Cardinal rules. Some of the important actions you must take to help prevent this unscrupulous crime from ruining your life are simple preventive everyday things you can do right your own home. Most importantly, use a paper shredder to shred all of your important financial and personal documents before you put them in the trash. Those who are looking to steal your identity have no issues with pawing through your garbage looking for what they need. If you are receiving credit card or even loan offers in the mail, it is important that these be shredded as well. This type of protection from identity theft is very cheap, inexpensive, and is absolutely considered one of the main, if not your first, line of defense.
More Steps to Take for Preventing Identity Fraud
*Remember to protect your identity online by following a few simple rules.
You may come across an email or website that asks for your passwords, user names, cell phone numbers, SS number, PIN, bank information or other items. Never fill these out. Regarding emails, always verify the senders email address before responding. This is a form of Phishing, where the recipient receives an email simulating a trusted brand or entity, trying to lure the reader into opening the message, to release a worm/virus, leaving your computer open to infiltration.
*If you want a ring tone, pay for it through your cell service or a commerce website. A free ring tone is not worth someone cleaning out your accounts and ruining your credit. This point cannot be stressed enough, Do Not download a bunch of free Crap! Look up information on Phishing scams and how to protect yourself. If in doubt, skip anything that asks for personal information. That is one of the best lines of defense in online identity theft prevention.
*Always have a reputable anti-virus program installed on all of your computers, tablets, and mobile devices.
*Another form of protection, when trying to wrap your head around all of the ID Theft prevention possibilities, is the freezing of your credit report, which is not widely known. Freezing your credit report is a term used to describe putting a temporary hold on all of your credit based transactions, including loans. If you suspect you are being victimized, and that someone has stolen your identity, you can "freeze your credit report". This means that if someone (perhaps a bank, car dealership, etc.) were to inquire about granting you new credit, they would not gain access to your credit report until you personally release the hold on your financial report and give permission. This stops new credit cards and other accounts from being opened in your name, for the fact that it's usually impossible to obtain any kind of credit or financing without first running a credit check. Meanwhile, if someone does try to establish an account or credit using your identity, you will be immediately notified and the culprit denied.
*Finally, another approach you may consider is to examine the criminal history of people in your neighborhood, by performing a public arrest records search or a full background check. There are many free and paid government website services, in addition to third party search providers, that will allow you to make these types of searches for your research. Just spot check a number of individuals to get help get a general consensus. Remember, home wireless networks or routers can travel hundreds if not thousands of feet, leaving your computer network wide open to a good hacker. You possibly might come across information that would help you keep you're guard up. Hence the importance of a really good anti-virus software program.
These precautionary steps mentioned here, though most may seem obvious, are very important starting points in protecting your credit and your financial security. Identity theft prevention is a joint effort between the consumer and the millions of businesses, large and small. Working together, waging war against these invisible entities, though may not entirely eliminate identity theft, will however, surely make it more difficult for these clever thieves to succeed.