Identity theft is the new cyber crime. It is a scary and at times a complex array of issues. Cyber crime is on the rise and can get costly and time consuming to correct. So, what exactly is identity theft and how do you stop it.
Put simply, identity theft is when somebody steals your personal information and pretends to be you.
The crooks makes withdrawals at your bank or run up your credit cards and leave you stuck with the mess.
It Was Identity Theft
The credit card companies don’t believe you when you try to tell them it wasn’t you. Why should they? How do you prove otherwise?
Everyone claims to be innocent when they max out their credit cards and can’t pay their bills on time, right?
And credit collectors can be very aggressive, causing you the anguish and torment, when it was Identity theft and was someone pretending to be you. Not pretty!
Victims feel totally helpless, and devastated, wondering what they did wrong. Needless to say, be sure you do report identity theft to the police first and then also to the FTC Federal Trade Commission.
People are sometimes too embarrassed to file the proper reports, or just don’t know where to report Identity theft.
How can it Happen
Is it really that easy to steal somebody’s Identity? Copying machine are everywhere in business today. You fill out a form for any store card, credit application, furniture payment plan, and a clerk somewhere has a chance to copy all your information.
You get a phone call, from your bank(or so you think). They tell you someone is trying to steal your information. Call this number and change your account login details.
It’s Not The Bank Calling
It is someone stealing your identity.They ask for more information and persuade you to key in your new pin on your phone. Maybe they tell you to protect your credit cards now, call another number and secure your cards.
And you think you are protecting yourself, but you just gave all your information to the thieves. They could have your accounts cleaned out within the hour, or a few days. You likely won’t even know till you get your statements from the bank, or credit companies.
Help from the FTC- Hang Up!
How Safe is Your Phone
Would a stolen phone reveal your personal information? If it is password protected, then it would be hard to open. However, if you use something like the word “Phone” for your password, you are likely going to get fleeced. The crook has plenty of addresses! Yours, your family, your friends and their phone numbers! Even strong passwords can get figured out.
Back Up Your Phone
Back up the data on your phone! Do it now, then if you lose it you can send an erase command. Once the thief opens your phone, you data is erased. You have it, the crook doesn’t! You can’t do it after you lose it, do it now!
Use a 6 digit password, or fingerprint scan and keep you phone set to lock whenever you are not using it. You can get the find my device app, and use it to find your phone and send the erase command, even if your phone is off.
You can also call your provider and get the sim card in your phone deactivated, either temporarily or permanently.
Pictures are irreplaceable, and they can be used against you. Store those online in a cloud storage that you can access with other devices.
Identity Protection Steps To Take
What happens when you lose your purse, or wallet? How much information are you carrying with you that can hurt you? Think about losing your driver license.
The crook has your address, your date of birth and birthday, what color your eyes are, what you look like, ect. He has a lot of information right there. That is enough to open an account in your name!
Nothing is guaranteed to absolutely prevent everything 100% of the time, but you can add some protection or reduce your risk. If you are going to the bank, take you debit card if you need it, but leave the credit card at home.
To be safe with a trip to the grocery store, leave the platinum card at home. Don’t include your social security number on checks.
In fact, some credit card companies are blocking out account numbers, and discouraging people from putting their numbers on their checks!
Read more ideas for protecting yourself from Identity theft in my Identity Theft and protection Review.
Watch Out For Fake Emails
Whenever you get any e-mails requesting information updates of any kind, check with the party involved and ask if they sent it.
Always go in person, to add or change any information. Watch your mail,and be sure you aren’t missing any bill notices. If you don’t receive a bill in any month, contact the parties and ask why?
Check on Any Missing Mail
Thieves can change addresses, and keep you from getting information about your account, or just steal your mail. Then by the time you actually notice you did not receive the credit card bill, the thieves have you fleeced.
Be sure to question all the information you give out and ask why they need it. Only give out what is absolutely necessary. Some of the information we give out is necessary, but much more is not.
We have to be aware, more than ever to protect our personal information, and give out less. Be mindful with places like drug stores and supermarkets.
They don’t think the thieves would target them, so they don’t invest heavily in data security, but it is you who is the victim, not them. If they get information stolen, you lose your money later.
Identity theft using computers is on the rise. Companies large and small, retail stores and even universities are being forced to increase the computer identity theft protection. Everyday, data breeches are becoming more and more commonplace.
Sometimes the information is not directly used in crimes right away.It can be copied and sold to others who may used the information without permission, in illegal activities.
Discovering Identity Theft Sometimes Takes Years
Sometimes, the problem is discovered, long after the accounts have been compromised, and the theft has taken place. And if the information is copied, it could be used at some point in the future.
*Update -Almost a year after I wrote this article, I discovered I was involved in a major data breech which compromised my information. Read the article here- The River City Media Data Breech.
Small Businesses becoming Victims
Small businesses are being targeted more and more. Why? They have good credit that the crooks can use to turn into goods and money in their pockets. Listen up! If you think crooks aren’t interested in your few thousand dollars, think again!
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I will get back to you, promptly. I always respond to all my readers.
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