Growing Problem and Precautions of Identity Theft
Individuals need to be proactive about protecting their personal information. Credit card numbers and social security numbers should be carefully guarded. If one’s identity is stolen, the victim is usually unaware until collection agencies or tax authorities contact him with demands for payment of large sums of money.
Personal Information Taken from the Mail and Garbage
A primary way in which identity thieves gain information about their victims is through garbage and mail. Other methods are stealing credit card information with concealed or sometimes cell phone cameras. Once the thieves have the information, it is usually sold to another party who then obtains credit in the victim’s name running up significant bills before moving on to the next victim. It is also warned to avoid using low-grade online casino platforms. Look for popularity and authenticity as such sites can be the root of identity theft.
Taking Action to Prevent Identity Theft
Here are some ways to take action on identity protection:
- Purchase and use a shredder
- Be wary of others when using an ATM, be certain no one can watch the entry of your PIN
- Watch for surveillance devices that may record your information
- Never lose sight of a credit card, a parking attendant may photograph a credit card before returning it back
- Mail checks from a post office, not from a mailbox in front of the home
- Have a complete list of all credit card numbers, passwords, and bank accounts kept in a secure location, not on a computer that may be accessed by others
- Write on a credit card instructions to a clerk to ask for identification
- Register any change of address with the Post Office
- Notify all suppliers of credit and financial services directly of any address change
- Do not carry unused credit cards
- Check credit reports kept by all three major credit bureaus
- Opt-out of unsolicited credit card offers
- Register for fraud alerts with the credit bureaus
Opting out of Unsolicited Credit Card Offers
A rich source of information for identity thieves is mailboxes. A particularly useful find for such a thief is an unsolicited offer for credit that has been pre-approved. These offers show up regularly, and it is not difficult for a thief to take such an offer from a mailbox, send it in and watch the mail for the credit card to arrive. There is an option available for opting out of such offers. It is run by credit reporting agencies and allows consumers to avoid having unsolicited offers of credit or insurance sent to them.
For someone to be maintained on the opt-out list, it must be renewed every five years. One can be put back on the list to receive offers at any time.