I can’t stress the intensity of the dangers posed by identity theft to its potential victims. It is a very serious crime and it does not exclude anyone. Statistics show that more than half of the cases of identity theft involve the use of credit cards for fraudulent purposes, and kids or children are not spared from being victims.
As always, vigilance is the key to protecting yourself and of course, defensive steps to fight off identity theft. Here are some tips to shielding yourself from being the next victim in line:
1. Protect your personal information. Remember that your bank and credit card company do not have to call you to verify or ask for your account information. They already have it in their records.
2. Photocopy your credit cards, ATM cards and any IDs that you have so that you have a copy of them in case they get stolen. Do not put your social security card in your wallet or anything that contains your social security number. Leave it at home.
3. Monitor your credit report annually. The law provides that you can obtain one copy for free from each of the major credit bureaus. There is a website online where you can order it for free.
4. Subscribe out of credit card marketing phone lists and call your bank or credit company and tell them that you do not want your statements sent via snail mail. These statements are always available online.
5. Always check your bank and credit card statement for any credits and charges that are done without your authorization. Most identity thieves test the water first by making small purchases, and if the victim does not notice, then they proceed with taking on huge credits.
6. Your car’s registration and insurance documents should always be kept in your glove compartment box and locked when you are away from your vehicle.
7. Use your own personal computer when you are conducting businesses online like shopping or making fund transfers. Avoid hot spots when performing online transactions and do not use computers in internet cafes.
8. Before punching in your pin number, make sure that no one is standing beside you on the ATM machine. As well, check the machine if there are any suspicious looking devices that are installed. Do not leave your card and receipt inside. Memorize your pin numbers and do not write it down and keep it in your wallet where you ATM card is also located.
9. Your cellphones should not be used as data storage for your credit card numbers, bank account numbers, PIN numbers and other financial data.
10. Do not apply to online employers whose addresses cannot be verified. Before you send your resume online, make sure that you have the identity of the company verified and checked.
11. Credit card bills and bank statements should be shredded, torn to pieces or burned if they are not needed anymore. They contain valuable information about yourself and you can’t risk it.