Avoiding Identity Theft - Vigilance is Key

June 06, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

Identity theft can occur in many different ways but always results in someone else assuming your identity for the purposes of performing a fraud or to commit a criminal act while deflecting attention from their true identity. Criminals and criminal organisations can acquire information to assume your identity from a variety of sources. In the simplest form the relatively simply act of of stealing your wallet can be the starting point. Individuals may also search through your trash to acquire leads or gain a foot hold that will allow the act of identity theft to be initiated. Other organisations will make a concerted effort to compromise your credit or bank information by phishing scams or spam emails. They may also approach you in person, on the telephone or in many forms on the Internet and simply ask you for your  information. There are so many sources of information about people in the modern world and the locations of this data are so numerous that it is virtually impossible to prevent the theft of your identity in many cases. However you can minimize the risk and mitigate the losses that result by following a few simple rules.

Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form - always burn, shred or put beyond use all sources of this type of information. Never give credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call and unless you are making the call to a known and trusted source. When reconciling bank statements then do so monthly and always notify your bank of any discrepancies identified immediately. Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards and any other valuable contents of your wallet and do so immediately you detect the theft.

Always report any unauthorized financial transactions at your bank or credit card company and also inform the police as soon as you detect them. Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year and note any queries that you did not authorise as these may represent fraud attempts. Notify the relevant credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and details on your report and always follow through until they are explained or removed. If you then find that your identity has been assumed then ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report. If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it.