How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

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Identity theft is the crime that happens when a criminal poses as someone else regardless of the motivation, which most often is money. Identity theft is a serious crime and one that can ruin your life in worst case. It's a much more serious issue than someone using your SSN number to buy beer. Victims of identity theft may in the worst case spend years trying to clean up their reputation after a particularly nefarious crime. Keep yourself safe from identity theft by following these guidelines.

Do not disclose your personal information

Criminals need very little information to be able to use your ID. That's why you should always be vigilant about not disclosing your personal information over the phone or email. There may be instances where there may be a legitimate reason for someone requesting your information, but as a general rule, you should not disclose your info to strangers. Always ask for proof of ID from those who ask for your information.

Treat your mail and trash with caution

Paper mail is still the most common way of sending confidential information. Make sure to keep all papers containing personal information safe and shred or burn it when done. Do not just throw it in the trash and assume it's done and away. Scammers routinely go trough trash to look for things such as pin codes, SSN numbers or similar.

Check your credit card reports

You may not know it if you have been victim of identity theft. It's very rare for a criminal to take full advantage of your credit card right away. Instead, the criminal will more likely try making a small purchase with it at first. If the card does not get closed, then he will go for the big score. It's very easy to miss such a small transaction at first if you are a busy person, but make it a habit to check your bank account and credit card statements at least once a week.

Stay safe on the internet

We all know of the Nigerian scam emails, but online fraud can be much more sophisticated than that. The most common way of stealing your information is by using phishing websites or Trojan horse programs. Be very careful about emails asking you to change your password. These may be used to steal your password on a fake site. Also, do not install software that you have not requested.

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