What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is where somebody with access to your personal banking or other financial details carries out transactions in your name. They might withdraw all the cash from your bank account, purchase thousands of dollars of goods online or even become involved in illegal activities and all of this has your name tied to it.
Identity theft was once something you saw in the movies. Now it's happening to the person sitting next to you in work or that lady who just passed you in the street. Almost 5% of the population have experienced identity theft to some extent. That's a huge number of people affected by a problem that's really not given as much attention as it deserves. The aftermath of identity theft can be devastating for even the toughest person emotionally, psychologically and of course financially. The average cost of recovering from a case of identity theft is $500 and this exludes the time and effort of the various agencies like banks and police who need to become involved.
Regardless of your financial standing or technical expertise you need to protect yourself against identity theft starting today if you've not already done so. Protecting yourself from this happening is always easier than trying to resolve it once it's reared its ugly head.
Here are 3 tips to follow. Make them your motto.
Checking credit card and bank statements online regularly is one way to be a step ahead of an identity theft problem. If you notice transactions or charges that seem odd then query them.
Guard Your Information
Shred all important documents before disposing of them. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, old bills and any receipts or documents you don't need. If you just put them out with the garbage then you're just asking for trouble.
If something does happen or something appears out of the ordinary then do something immediately. Call the bank or credit card company. Question the charges. Tell them that you didn't make those purchases. Or if you lose your wallet then cancel your credit cards and bank cards immediately. Don't leave anything to chance.
Identity theft isn't just something that happens online via websites although this is a common misunderstanding. You're far more likely to suffer from a case of identity theft while out having a meal or withdrawing cash from an ATM. Actually most cases of identity theft are caused by people tossing credit card and bank statements out in the trash or being doubled swiped or credit card duped by staff in restaurants.
If you've not been affected by identity theft then don't assume "it will never happen to me". You're as at risk as anyone else.
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