Identity theft is when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act.
Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources such as stealing your wallet, rifling through your garbage cans or by compromising your credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.
The sources of information about you are so numerous that you can’t thoroughly prevent the theft of your identity. But you CAN minimise your risk of loss by following a few simple hints.
Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft:
- 1. Destroy! Destroy!
Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form. Trash them. Don’t just screw them up and chuck into a bin, rip them up, tear them up or, better still, buy yourself a cheap home shredder. My little shredder cost $10.I also destroy all envelopes which have my name and address on them. This is going over the top as my address is pretty easy to find but I shred anyway.
- 2. Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call. Even then, why are you giving out your details over the phone?
- 3. Reconcile your bank account monthly, and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately. Report unauthorised financial transactions to your bank, credit card company and the police as soon as you detect them.
- 4. Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc. Make a photocopy of all your ID , your many cards, driver’s license etc – then if your bag is stolen you can contact the bank, health insurance agency etc and give them the numbers on your documents.
Your Credit Report
Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.