Identity theft is a common crime in our age of electronic information. It seems the more convenient internet commerce becomes for consumers, the more opportunities arise for identity thieves to gain access to our personal information and use it for unscrupulous means.
It has become essential for all of us to make protection from identity theft a priority in our lives, just like locking our front doors at night or keeping our checkbooks in a safe place. Just as house and financial security begins at home, protection from identity theft starts with you.
Knowledge is the First Step in Protection from Identity Theft
Before you can protect yourself from something, you need to be knowledgeable about the situation. Protection from identity theft starts with understanding how thieves will try to get their hands on your personal information. The first stop may very well be to your trash can searching for documents that have not been shredded.
Have you ever tossed an offer for a credit card without tearing up the application first? That application can be a gold mine to an identity thief. The next place he might look is your mailbox. Do you place outgoing mail, including bills with checks in them, in your home mailbox? This is another big opportunity for a thief to help himself to your personal information – and your bank account.
An identity thief might even call you directly and pretend to be someone that you would be willing to share information with, such as your bank or internet provider. You will protect yourself from identity theft if you refuse to give out account or social security numbers over the phone lines or email. A thief may also gain access to your personal computer which will give him a treasure box full of information that he can use to benefit himself. Anti-virus software and firewalls that are updated regularly will help protect you from this identity thief.
Finally, a potential thief might buy your information from someone who is out to make a quick buck, like a store clerk that has access to your credit card and scans it before returning it to you. Whenever you use a credit card to make a purchase in a store, keep your eye on your card and make sure that it does not get out of your sight.
Identity thieves have many ways to access your personal information and establish new identities using your name. Fortunately, you have many opportunities to protect yourself from identity theft by being smart and being careful.