Avoiding Identity Theft

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Identity theft has become one of the most popular and common crimes across the country with the advent of the technology age, especially the Internet, and protecting yourself from identity should be a priority. Always be wary of scams involving credit cards, personal information, and your Social Security number whether over the phone or via the Internet.

Internet scams have become all too common as the technology age continues to progress and people of all ages are susceptible to becoming a victim of identity theft. Examples of Internet scams are when a spam email will be sent to your inbox but it will look like an email from your bank or your credit card company. The email will ask you for your Social Security number, your credit card number, your bank account and much more personal information. Never respond to these emails with any of your personal information without first double checking to see if the email was actually sent by your bank or credit card company. You can check this by calling the bank or credit card company’s customer service hotline. If they did not send the email to you, delete it and do not respond to it.

One proven method of preventing ID theft is by adopting a ‘need to know’ approach to your personal information. When you sign up for accounts at your bank they will more than likely want some information, like your mother’s maiden name. If someone calls your house and asks for your mother’s maiden name, they more than likely aren’t with your bank.

The best advice for guarding against identity theft is always being watchful of your accounts and mindful of whom you give your personal information to. Always double check your monthly bank account and credit card statements that arrive in the mail or via your account holder’s secured website. Double check the statements with your receipts. If there are any purchases or withdrawals on those statements that you don’t recognize, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. If you are the victim of identity theft, contact one or more of the following agencies:

  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission
  • Contact your local office of the Postal Inspection Service
  • Contact the Social Security Administration
  • Contact the Internal Revenue Service
  • Call the fraud units of the three principal credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union

Identity theft can be one of the scariest crimes around today and can wipe out a person’s account within seconds. Not only will victims of identity theft lose money or have purchases made in their name, they can also have their livelihood taken away if a crime is committed in their name but not their person. Being vigilant with your personal information, bank accounts, and credit card accounts will help you avoid identity theft and any problems that might arise in the future. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to request a credit report of your credit history every now and then. Requesting a credit report will help you monitor your credit history and notice if anything is out of place.