What Is Identity Theft

Remember back in grade school when you’d walk into the room and your heart would sink because one of your classmates was wearing the same shirt as you?  Your identity was compromised and for some strange reason it gave you this ball in your gut that something just wasn’t right.

Identity Thedt: the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.

Now imagine waking up and seeing your bank accounts wiped out, your social security checks being tampered with and huge insurance policies taken out in your name.  Not only would this just make me sick, it has a serious financial impact on your life and takes a lot of hard work to rectify.  Your identity has just been stolen and you need to get it back.

Identity theft is a crime punishable by law and typically involves when a criminal wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception.  Such data typically includes:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Bank Account Numbers
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Birth dates or other personally identifying information

Once obtained, the criminal’s attempt to profit financially at your expense.

What Is Identity Theft

Identity theft happens when your personal information is stolen and used without your knowledge. It is a serious crime that cost you time and money, ruin your credit and destroy your good name.

Did you know a task as simple as purchasing fuel could put you at risk for identity theft?  Even using an ATM can put your data at risk.  With technological advances, fast networks and small microchips and processors, it is easier than ever for criminals to pull-off elaborate identity theft schemes on a mass-scale.

5 Tips To Prevent Identity Theft

Look Out For Skimmers

These devices are commonly placed on unmanned credit card readers like those at fuel pumps or ATMs

Change Your Online Passwords Frequently

You supply most if your vital information to online merchants and also via your online bank accounts.  Changing your password frequently is a simple and proactive step you can take to prevent your account from being taken over.  Also, choose strong passwords that contain uppercase, lowercase and special characters along with a number or two and avoid dictionary words, birth dates and names of family members or pets.

Do Not Respond To Emails, Phone Calls or Text Messages with Personal Information

As a rule of thumb, when receiving an email or communications from a legitimate institution, they will typically have you verify your account by some means.  When receiving a text or email from a company the communication will usually contain your username or a partial account or phone number to show you the message is legit.

People asking for money whether it be foreign or domestic are usually up to no good and you need not respond to those communications.

Check Your Online Account Balances Often

Keep an eye on your savings accounts and checking accounts looking for any suspicious activity.  This is another proactive step you can take to prevent criminals from going wild with your financial information.  Some banks offer transaction emails where you can subscribe to email alerts whenever activity is generated against your counts (purchases, transfers and withdrawals).

Obtain Identity Theft Protection

Without insurance coverage for identity theft, identity recovery can cost a lot of money and take a long time to rectify.  You can obtain identity theft for as little as $25/yr and they will monitor your accounts for you.

What are the Most Common Ways To Commit Identity Theft or Fraud?

Shoulder Surfing

The criminal will simply look over your shoulder or watch from a nearby location as you type in your account numbers or enter your ATM pin.  They could also listen to phone conversations or real conversations at hotels or car rental companies where you need to provide financial information verbally.

Dumpster Diving

This type of theft occurs when the thief actually rummages through your garbage in an attempt to locate statements that provide the information they are looking for.  If you do not shred these types of documents, it could be easy for a thief to obtain the information simply by going through the trash.

The Internet and Phishing

In recent years, the internet has become the prime place for criminals to obtain financial information.  They do this via several methods.  From viruses to fraudulent email campaigns to phishing schemes, there are numerous ways you can lose your financial information online.

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