When people talk about identity theft, they are often talking about online theft. This is the most common way thieves steal your identity, but there are many other ways they can steal your information, a piece at a time. Here are some ways they can do this, and steps you can take to prevent being victimized by identity theft:
1) LOST OR STOLEN CREDIT CARDS AND MAIL– This is still a very common way thieves can steal your information or identity. Leaving cards lying around where someone could swipe them quickly, getting your wallet or purse stolen, or just dropping a card in a parking lot could be an invitation to identity theft. So can leaving mail in an unsecured box! To prevent this, always know where your cards are at all times, put a “fake” password on the back of the card which belongs to a different card, and alert your bank or credit card company immediately when you discover the card was stolen. Also, watch employees you give your card to at restaurants and places of business. A card can be swiped in just a few seconds and the information captured. Check your statements regularly for strange transactions or unexplained charges. And if you don’t have a locked mailbox, make sure you know when your mail is delivered, fetch it right away, and eliminate as many paper statements as possible.
2) UNSECURED SITES– Shopping on sites which do not have the “secured” logo or other logo, such as Pay Pal or other reputable payment gateway is a way people can steal your information from third-party sites. If you come across a site you are not sure about, check them out with the Better Business Bureau or other agency before doing business with them.
3) COOKIES AND MILK– Cookies used to be something you ate with milk which your mother had waiting for you when you came in from school at the end of the day. Now, cookies are little bits of information you leave behind when you enter your secure information, such as addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, or banking information. This means that cookies are now dangerous. While it’s usually okay to do this at home, never leave information or “cookies” in your browser when at work, or in a public computer. Someone could come along right after you and capture your information and use it for themselves. Some people even watch for this by seeing when people are shopping at public computers, then jumping online right after them to get the information. Don’t risk it. Dump the temporary directories after you’re finished browsing when shopping at a public computer.
4) LOST PASSWORDS– Lost passwords are another way people can assume your identity. Don’t leave account information and password lying around where anyone can see it. When I am at home, I do t his sometimes, but I live alone. And I enter the information into a password notebook as soon as possible and hide it in a safe place. Don’t leave passwords scribbled on scrap paper and throw it away without shredding it, so that someone cannot attempt to use it.
5) LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS– This old saying still applies in our technology age. If you tell too much to a friend, even if you trust the friend, it may end up in the wrong hands. So use caution in talking about your accounts or leaving information available for thieves.
Identity theft can occur without a moment’s notice, in the “twinkling of an eye,” or a “thief in the night.” Do what you can to protect yourself by guarding your passwords, locking up important financial information, checking your bank statements regularly, and using the same general caution you would in the real world. Get extra protection you need from such crimes by investing in some identity theft insurance. Sure, it’s another bill you’ll have to pay each month, but you’d be surprised how inexpensive it can be. And compared to what you could lose, it is too valuable to pass up. Remember, thieves count on getting pieces of the puzzle of information about you in order to commit identity theft. They do not need all the pieces, just a few. So, if they can not get all of the information, they get as many pieces as they can. Once they get enough to convince someone they are you, they can do whatever they want with that information. Don’t risk it. Look into some identity theft insurance today.
About The Author
Sara Wells is a writer who blogs on behalf of companies like Protectyourbubble.com, an ID Theft services provider.