If you let your guard down thinking that only celebrities would be vulnerable to identity theft – think again. Yes, many celebrities like Beyonce and Britney Spears have fallen prey to identity theft; but if this can happen to the bigwigs, then it can possibly happen to you.
For identity theft to materialize, they only need a few private details such as your personal identifying information (PII) that includes your full name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, address, phone number, driver’s license numbers, social security number, bank account numbers, and credit card details. These are stolen so as to commit fraud in forms of filing taxes, applying for loans, or getting allied medical services; among others – which are all intended for personal gain.
All of these could start from a harmless phone call asking you to verify your credit card information, losing your wallet with important IDs in it, clicking on email links which are actually phishing for private information, or even credit card bills or bank statements thrown in the garbage bin. Identity thieves are certainly out to get you and just waiting for the right opportunity for you to let your guard down.
Here are 3 best ways to prevent identity theft and protect your reputation:
- Protect your identity online. You need to be able to strengthen your personal security whenever you are shopping online, checking emails, or engaging in social media. You need to start with a strong password that will be very hard for identity thieves to guess or hack into. Make use of symbols and numbers and never use one password for all your email and social media accounts online. Make sure that you use a unique password for each account. Whenever you shop online, be sure to check the SSL certification of the site to make sure that your transactions are kept secure and confidential. Also, do not click or open phishing emails which could be soliciting important information such as verification of your PIN codes or passwords.
- Shred documents before throwing them into the garbage can. Invest in a paper shredder to make sure that you leave no documents bearing your social security number, credit card details, or bank account numbers that identity thieves can dig into in dumpsters just so they can apply for a credit line in your name or other unforgivable things they can think of with such valuable data in their hands.
- Keep your wallet secure. Your wallet is definitely identity thieves’ best bet to getting your personal identification information because your credit cards along with important IDs are all stacked up in one secure place and could be very dangerous when placed in the wrong hands. Be sure to keep your wallet in a secure place, right at your front pockets or in a hidden compartment in your bag. Keep your documents at minimum and don’t bring all your credit cards when going out. Also, do not write down email passwords or PIN codes and keep it in your wallets along with your debit and credit cards.
Identity theft is listed in 2008 as the top crime complaint of individuals in the United States alone. It stirred even more attention in 2012 when 12.6 million identity theft cases were reported. Your personal information can be stolen right under your nose because thieves lurk both online and offline – the culprit could even be someone you know and trust.
Almost anyone can fall prey to an identity thief except for those who have poor credit scores or are blacklisted. You alone are responsible for protecting your data and must guard important information and documents by being aware and proactive of how identity theft is being carried out in your country or other tactical ploys done in the rest of the world. Once you are familiar with these scams, you will know how to keep your defenses up and to protect yourself from these identity predators.