Identity Theft: 5 Steps to Prevent It

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Identity theft is defined as a person acquiring another’s personal information with the intention of accessing the victim’s accounts or to create a new identity for themselves. In the first instance, the thief uses the information they have obtained to access your bank accounts or to make purchases using your credit or debit card. This type of identity theft can lead to the loss of money and the damaging of your credit rating but it is relatively easy to stop the problem once it is discovered. 

The same cannot be said for the problems that are caused when a thief uses your personal information to create a new identity for themselves. The symptoms of this type of identity theft are harder to recognize and may not be noticed until a great deal of damage has been done. Even after the problem has been discovered it may take years for you to repair the damage done to your reputation.

The best way to deal with the problem of identity theft is to avoid becoming a victim in the first place. It is true that in today’s world where so much our information is in cyberspace it may be nearly impossible to prevent it entirely. When asking why choose Comcast over other providers perhaps you should prioritize the carrier that offer more secure connections. However, these five steps can make it much harder for identity thieves to get a hold of your personal information.

Protect Your Receipts

To a person who knows what to look for; almost any receipt can provide information of a personal nature, especially if you the purchase was made electronically. Make sure to ask for your receipt, do not leave it behind. It will likely end up in the establishment’s recycling where untold numbers of people could gain access to it.

If the purchase was made online and an e-mail receipt was sent to you, print a hard copy of the receipt and delete the e-mail. Do not save it online where hackers could easily find it. Any receipts that you do not need to hold onto should be promptly destroyed. Those that you must save should be kept under lock and key.

Shred Everything

Anything that has your name, address or phone number on it can provide a thief with a first step in stealing your identity. Even junk mail could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Any piece of paper that you do not need to hold onto should be shredded before you dispose of it.

Protect Your Computer

Many cases of identity theft can trace their beginnings back to the hacking of a home or business computer. Have anti-spyware and anti-virus software installed on your computer and update it regularly.

Remember that even with great software, there is always some lag time between when new hacking software is created and when your service can be programmed to prevent it. Minimize your risk by limiting the amount of personal information that is stored on it and protect everything with unique and unpredictable passwords.

Shop Smart

The internet is filled with bargains. However, not all of the businesses offering them are reputable or have your best interests in mind. Forget the fly by night bargain dealers. Although they themselves may not be dishonest, you have no idea how carefully they will protect your information.

Stick to well established companies. They know that they cannot keep their customers coming back if they get a reputation for handling your information incorrectly. They are likely to do everything possible to protect you from identity thieves.

Empty Your Wallet

There is no need to carry multiple credit or debit cards with you all the time. Before you leave the house decide which of them you are actually likely to use and leave the others at home, preferably locked up in a safe. This way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, the damage is minimized.

There may be no way to completely alleviate the risk of having your identity stolen. However, using common sense about who you give your information to and making it difficult for thieves to gain access to information of a personal nature will help to prevent identity theft and minimize the damage done if you should become a victim.

 

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