The average person goes to great lengths to ensure that their home, vehicle, and personal property are protected from those who would like to steal what is not rightfully theirs. What’s strange is that those same folks give very little thought to protecting their identity to the same degree, which in this day and age is a major mistake. Identity theft is on the rise and can lead to all sorts of financial problems that are incredibly hard to dig out of. We all assume that the credit card companies and banks have security measures in place that will protect us, and while what they provide is excellent, it’s not always enough.
The internet in particular has made it easier for the identity thieves to get at your information and use it for their own personal gain. One thing you really need to be on the lookout for is e-mails that look as though they have originated from a trusted source such as your financial institution. They will usually have a message saying that you need to update your personal information, complete with a link to take you to the page to do so. You assume all is well, head to that page and enter your info. All you are doing is providing those details to the thief, who will then use it to access you accounts or establish credit in your name. This is known as phishing and is one of the top ways that your identity can be stolen nowadays. If you receive that type of e-mail, go directly to the website of your bank and log in through there, rather than clicking the link. If the bank requires you to update your info, there will be a message on your personal account page.
Identity theft doesn’t always have to be that high tech, though, as some crooks are brazen enough to go through your mail or even your wallet. Stealing a credit card statement out of your mailbox is one way that they can get the information they need.
It is recommended that you go paperless with all of your bills, choosing instead to receive bills and statements via e-mail. You should also try to limit the amount of personal information that you carry in your wallet. Your social security card is a perfect example of a document that should never be carried around with you, as thieves can easily steal your identity if they have access to that number.
Another place where you need to be careful is over the phone. Identity thieves will call posing as all sorts of different people in order to gain access to your credit card information. If you are not sure who you are talking to, do not give any personal information. Pay real attention to all of your credit card statements and try to keep up with your credit reports, as this will help you identify any fraudulent charges that might suddenly appear. Catching these early can help prevent identity theft from becoming something that cripples you in the long term.