Each year approximately 15 million Americans become victims of identity theft. Identity theft can manifest itself in a number ways, the most popular methods of acquiring information include dumpster diving, mail theft, stolen wallets, and data breaches. Stolen identities may sometimes be crimes of opportunity, when we leave our personal belongings vulnerable to outsiders, it becomes very easy for someone to take advantage of these openings. Although there are some circumstances where identity theft is unavoidable(company data breaches) there are precautions one can take in order to avoid dealing with the ramifications of a stolen identity.
- Properly destroying and discarding mail that contains personal information
Bank statements, promotional credit cards, and tax forms are examples of common documents that offer a tempting opportunity for someone to falsely impersonate you. When you receive these forms in the mail it is crucial that you destroy these documents before you discard them. Cutting up unwanted credit cards, investing in a paper shredder are simple and effortless ways to avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud.
2. Password Management
If you have the same or a similar password for one account , then it becomes extremely easy for someone to hack your password and gather information from your other accounts. For tech savvy individuals who are skilled at computer hacking identical passwords become their goldmine and your nightmare. As soon as someone gets a hold of your password they can impersonate you from your Twitter account and also clear out your bank account in fatal swoop. There are existing websites and applications that can help you maintain the security of your accounts by issuing you unique passwords while managing all of your passwords so you can easily refer to them.
3. Be mindful of your surroundings
When withdrawing money from an ATM or surfing the web at a cybercafe be mindful and hyper-aware of your immediate surroundings. Shoulder surfers are always on the prowl ready prepared to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Shoulder surfers carefully observe people as they enter their pin into an ATM or as they type in a password at a cafe in order to use this information for their benefit. Preventive measures can be taken in order to fend off shoulder surfing such as blocking the information on ATM screens with your body or free hand, framing your computer away from occupants of the coffee shop, and refraining from surfing websites that contain private information at cybercafes.
4. Frequently check your credit score and bank account statements
Keeping a watchful eye on your credit score or bank accounts allows you to notice sudden changes or discrepancies. If it becomes the case that someone has a hold of your personal information then it certainly helps to know before they have a chance to clean out your accounts or destroy your credit. An identity theft crisis are time sensitive situations, early response and immediate action can make all the difference.
Identify fraud can be a difficult dilemma to deal with, but practicing these simple steps can significantly reduce your chances of becoming one of the 15 million Americans who fall victim to this crime. Contact us at Kyle Law Firm if you find yourself a victim of identity theft.