IDENTITY theft occurs when a person takes another persons identifying information to commit theft or fraud.
It has become one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. It can happen quickly and easily and most often, you will not even know you are a victim until well after the fact.
There are a number of very simple safeguards you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Place passwords on all your important accounts
- Avoid using obvious passwords such as telephone numbers, birth dates or your mother's maiden name.
- Don't use the same password on different accounts.
Secure your personal information
- Secure all personal information at home in a lockable filing cabinet or safe.
Don't carry personal information unless needed
- Never carry you PIN in your wallet with the ATM card.
- Don't carry documents like your passport or birth certificate unless you have to.
Destroy personal information before disposal
- Before discarding old bills, records or expired cards, ensure that any identifying information is destroyed.
- Home shredders can be a good investment.
Avoid providing personal information by phone, mail or online
- Make sure you know who you are dealing with before you give out personal information.
Secure your mail
- Make sure you have a secure, lockable letterbox and only post mail at official post boxes.
Check your billing and account records carefully
- By checking all transactions on your banking and credit card accounts, you may detect potential identity theft early.
- Follow up if you bills or accounts don't arrive on time.
List all your account details
- Make a list of all your accounts, credit cards and relevant contact details.
- Keep this list in a safe place.
- If you lose your wallet or purse, notify your bank immediately.
Remember that unsolicited offers that seem too good to be true or require you to give out bank account details or other personal information, are likely to be be scams.