How to Combat Identity Theft

With identity theft being an extremely fast growing problem, people are constantly trying to find ways to fight it. The potential damage that can result from having your personal information stolen is immeasurable. If an identity thief were to get a hold of your credit card and Social Security numbers, they may be able to borrow money in your name and spend you into instant bankruptcy. It could take years to gloss over the mess, and some damage could conceivably be irreparable. It is much easier to combat identity theft before it occurs.

Scammers are Everywhere

It doesn’t matter whether you’re surfing the net or answering a telephone call, you need to be on the lookout for people who will go to most any length to get you to reveal your personal information to them. They will in turn use that information to their own advantage by buying things in your name. Their use of your identity can cause severe damage to your credit rating, and at the very least you would end up spending days, weeks, or months to get it fixed. Con artists use whatever means they can to get your personal information, so caution is urged. By taking a few preventive measures you can cut down the chances of their success.

Keep Personal Information Secure

Identity thieves prey on the unsuspecting and the gullible. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, so use your head and don’t be tempted by get rich schemes. Never reveal personal information, such as your Social Security number, or credit card or driver’s license numbers, to anyone over the telephone unless you’re 100 percent sure they’re legitimate. If you receive a telephone call asking for your personal information so your loan will go through, but you haven’t applied for a loan recently, it’s a good indication that you’re either being scammed, or someone is trying to use your information to get a loan. Let the lender know immediately that you suspect identity theft, and notify the authorities as soon as possible. If the caller is a scammer they will hang up immediately, and if they are a legitimate lender they will do everything they can to help you protect your identity.

Trash Your Trash

Another way that identity thieves have of gathering your personal information is to go through your trash. You may not realize it, but your discarded garbage could contain a great deal of personal information. For instance, your canceled checks contain your checking account number, and the routing number of the bank you do business with. Other information can be gleaned from such things as your utility bills. Those bills contain your name, address, telephone number, and additional information that you may take for granted, but will be a treasure trove for an identity thief. You can combat this by destroying the paper before discarding it. The best, most economical way to do that is to purchase a small shredder. If you want to be absolutely sure an identity thief can’t put the pieces together again you should run the paper through more than once.

Practice Internet Security

Because the Internet is such a valuable tool, we may tend to be lax when using it. Keep in mind that the convenience of the Internet that you treasure makes it a tremendous source of potential information to a scammer. If an identity thief can gain your trust by using subterfuge they will be able to make off with enough personal information to cause you a great deal of trouble. Some of their schemes involve gaining access to your computer by means of Viruses, Trojan horses, worms, malware, or spyware. You can fight this by making sure your computer has an up-to-date antivirus program in order to protect your computer from invasion. You may not realize how much information you keep on your computer, but if you’re like most people you probably have a great deal. Another way to help protect your computer from hackers is to use complex passwords, and ensure that firewalls are in place. Don’t give into the temptation of using the same password for everything simply because it’s convenient and easy to remember. Instead you should use a random combination of numbers and letters, which will make it extremely difficult for a hacker to invade your computer.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about identity theft prevention for IdentityTheft.net.

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