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Preventing Identity Theft : What Can You Do? - Articles Surfing


Identity theft is becoming an increasingly used buzzword in today's high tech world of online banking and bill paying, and with the advent of services like Paypal and shopping cart.

We hear about identity theft in the news all the time, and we think we very well may be at risk, but we're not sure what to do to help prevent it. Well, there are some things you can do that are very simple that will help prevent you from ever becoming a victim of this potentially disastrous crime.

Unfortunately, even though identity theft is a federal crime, that still doesn't scare theives away from bilking millions of dollars of year from unsuspecting, hard working people like you and I. It's not something that any of us want to deal with, but it is prudent to exercise caution whenever possible to reduce your risk.

At this point, we may all have a story about a friend, acquaintance, or family member who was an unwitting victim of some form of identity theft, and the good thing is, these bring the reality closer to home, and have made more people aware that is a growing problem. There are a few types of identity theft, and I'm sure there are even more than I am listing here that not a whole lot of people are aware of.

The types of identity theft are :

1.) When one's personal information is stolen from their person, such as a wallet with credit cards and other identity revealing financially negotiable instruments.

2.) Something called "phishing" where bogus emails are sent from a scam artist claiming to be a bank or some other type of financial institution, claiming they need you to "sign in" and provide personal information that can allow them to filter money from your account, or charge purchases to a credit card.

3.) Mail related identity theft is where a thief can either intercept your mail and get your personal information or even fill out a change of address form for you so they may receive your mail and do with it what they please.

4.) Internet fraud through unsecured websites when you provide credit card or personal information, a thief may be able to hack sites that are not secured and gain your personal information, or even infect your computer with a virus which hijacks personal information.

Like I said, the four mentioned above are probably not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to identity theft, but they are the main categories of ways that these savvy and increasingly sophisticated scam artists are getting away with stealing money from people. So, what can you do to help prevent being a victim of these types of identity theft? Well, the good thing is, there are several ways you can help reduce your risk.

First and foremost, make sure you do not ever respond to an email that is requesting you to log in somewhere to verify your information, even if it appears to be from a company you do business with on a regular basis. Spammers skilled in the art of "phishing" are very adept at making these emails look like the real deal, and unfortunately many people have been duped into disclosing important personal information.

What you can do to help combat this problem is visit the company's offical website on your own, not through any links in the email of course, and report this suspicious email to them. Most large companies have measures in place to protect their clients, and they want to be aware of any bogus emails going out to people with their trusted name attached.

There are also large efforts in the making to prevent these types of emails from coming through to your email inbox, and instead going to your spam bulk file, making them more idenitfiable as a potential security threat, and also reducing the likelihood that one will be defrauded by them.

I saw an improvement in this, but just recently, my inbox has been indundated with spam emails requesting personal information, so it seems the scam artists have found a loophole and are taking advantage, although it may not last long.

Another important prevention measure is to not only be aware of bogus emails, but also to make sure any website that asks for credit card information for a purchase has a security seal of approval. These secured sites usually will have some sort of symbol that they are secured by Verisign or another online security system that signifies it should be safe to pay with. If the site looks fishy, stay clear.

Whenever you receive mail that has credit card information, or is a solicitation for a credit card offer, make sure you tear it up into pieces. Another scam to gain access to your credit or accounts is for thieves to go through your garbage and fill out your credit card offers with a change of address, get the new credit card mailed to them, and start using it to make purchases. Also, it is wise to always have up to date virus protection on your computer, as some viruses are designed to hijack your personal and credit information.

When making purchases with credit or debit cards in any retail establishments, if your credit card number prints on the receipt that they keep, ask to scribble out the whole thing.

Workers or other people may have access to your credit card information, or have just enough information to make online or over the phone purchases with your credit, and this is yet another way your identity can be stolen for the financial benefit of thieves.

While this list of measure you can take to help prevent identity theft is not all inclusive, it is a good start to ensuring your security and making sure your hard earned money stays in your pocket only. They are good principles to live by in this day and age of online banking and financing.

Submitted by:

Danna Schneider

Danna Schneider is the founder of http://www.primeratecredit.com for information on low interest credit cards, loans and mortgages, as well as financial news and personal finance tips. She also manages an online entertainment magazine http://www.flickwiki.com .



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