Let’s be real…
Today’s criminals are smarter and faster at stealing your personal information than you may give them credit for and if you really care about personal safety, then you’d better start doing something about it right away.
I am not saying that you need to consider life altering security procedures, since in many cases, by making a few adjustments and changes to your everyday lifestyle, the security of your personal information will greatly increase.
In some cases though, even if you have the proper safeguards in place, you may still end up being a victim of identity theft and when this happens, the faster you take action, the higher the chances for you to recover the money stolen from you and find out who was behind the theft.
1. What is identity theft?
You may not understand what identity theft actually means and if that is the case, well, identity theft is a crime where the thief uses your personal data for financial gains. This is mostly known as a crime of impersonation and on a yearly basis, there are more than fifteen million Americans who fall victims to these unscrupulous criminals. Overall, the financial damages they suffer amount to well over fifty billion dollars.
And you know what the surprising fact about identity theft is?
It can happen at any given time and that is because the technologies available today have allowed thieves to consider multiple entry points that can easily give them access to people’s personal data. Community groups, public resumes, personal computers (such as laptops and desktop computers) smartphones and internet retailers are the main targets of personal identity thieves.
Of course, these systems need to have poor security in place in order to be vulnerable and given the fact that online security still has many flaws that thieves take advantage of to commit crimes, the number of victims keeps increasing every year. If the authorities aren’t doing something about it, then you should. After all, it’s your personal data that’s going to be used and at the end of the day, you’re the one who is initially charged for these crimes and have to clean up the mess. So make sure that you identify any suspicious activities and actively work in order to limit access points.
2. Main types of identity theft
There are dozens of ways to get your hands on other people’s identities, but when you take a look at the bigger picture, you’ll realize that there are 2 main types of identity theft. One of them is the account takeover and it’s the simplest type of the two. What this means is that thieves are going to use your credit card information, possibly clone it on another card or just use the info alone in order to make various purchases on the internet.
For thieves, this is a very lucrative method, since they can reach your credit card’s limit in just a few minutes and then discard the info before you even know what’s happening. Eventually, you’re going to find out that you’ve been a victim of identity theft when your card is rejected while trying to make a payment with it or when you get your monthly statement.
The second type of identity theft is known as application fraud, but this one is a bit different since thieves need to have a great deal of personal information about their victim. The information will then be used in various ways, but thieves generally apply for credit lines in the victim’s name. As a victim, you’re only going to learn about this when you see a new lien on your credit report or when you’re contacted by a collection agency for payment. These types of identity thefts are quite devastating for the victims and even though in most cases you’re going to get your money back, the hassle of getting to the bottom of it will wear you down.
3. ATMs are very vulnerable to identity theft
Did you know that nowadays using an ATM is not safe anymore?
Well, it’s because many thieves are skilled at monitoring PIN numbers from a distance and the way they do this is by attaching special devices to the ATM’s card reader. These devices can either be purchased from the internet or they can be improvised by the thief.
When attached to an ATM, they’ll collect the card information of everyone using the ATM in order to withdraw money or perform other banking activities.
4. Online activities
Most of us use our credit cards on the internet in order to make various purchases, but the thing is that doing so carries a lot of risks most people ignore. A lot of us use what we call our “main credit card” which means this is the card on which we have most of our money on. So regardless if you engage in public internet usage, online banking, social media usage or online shopping, once you type in your credit card information on a website in order to purchase something, you’re at risk for becoming an identity theft victim.
These activities are called phishing scams and the best way to protect yourself from them or at least limit the damages, is to have a separate credit card that you’re going to use strictly for online activities. Be sure you have little money on it, so you don’t take a major financial hit if you are ever to become the target of identity theft criminals.
5. What you can do to protect yourself from identity theft
There are quite a lot of things you can do in order to make sure you won’t be the next identity theft victim and they include:
1. Never publish check-in and vacation plans and do not post any personal data that can be used for stealing your identity.
2. Be careful what you post on Facebook and other social media accounts, since the information can be used against you.
3. Don’t publish information that allows people to guess your passwords.
4. Never store sensitive information on your smartphone.
5. Don’t download and use apps that look shady.
6. Never open suspicious links or download suspicious E-mails.
How Do You Know Your Personal Information Is Safe?
You don’t need to hide in fear…
You just need to know the solid facts on how to fight identity theft.
If you want to know your privacy rights and how to protect them…check out our identity theft resource guide called The Ultimate Guide To Protecting Your Family From Identity Theft & Fraud