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Identifying Identity Theft Alerts

By Ruth Racey
Published: Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Falling victim to identity theft is an experience you will not wish for even against your worst enemy. It can lead to a financial crisis you will have trouble recovering from for years. Victims of identity theft know this well, and as long as there is no foolproof safeguard that will protect internet users from computer hackers, the number of victims will continue to grow.

What are the clues that tell you your identity has been stolen? Since most identity thieves steal identities for monetary gain, this question is fairly easy to answer. Upon receiving the monthly credit card statement, scan each charge. If you are the only one using your card, you will immediately notice purchases that you have not made.

Bank statements may also reflect withdrawals or debits you know nothing about. One telltale sign that you have fallen victim to identity theft is when you receive a notice that you have exceeded the credit limit or have a zero balance in your bank account.

How do you prevent identity theft? First, be very careful when using the internet for purchases. Nowadays, there are such things as clone websites. When visiting your shopping website to order something you need, make sure you have the correct site. Clone websites look strikingly similar to the original. Fortunately, the address will not be the same so you will be able to distinguish the clone website from the original. Second, is by erasing from your computer all sensitive information about bank accounts and credit card numbers. Computer hackers are known for their capability to retrieve information from personal computers and even more sophisticated hardware. Naturally, it is best to start at home. Keep your bank, credit and social security documents in a safe place. Keep records of transactions so you can check entries in the credit card and bank statements.

As more people continue to fall victim to identity theft, information about what methods identity thieves employ as well as viable safeguards, accumulate. Learning from those who have actually experienced it is essential.

What to do when you detect signs of identity theft? First, report the matter to credit issuers, banks and other institutions where thieves can use your identity to their advantage. Report the loss to the credit bureau and the police. All these institutions are bound to investigate the matter. Second, monitor investigations and make sure that something is being done about the crime. Investigations on this kind of crime may take years, but a few cases are known to have been satisfactorily resolved.

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