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How to stop identity theft from happening to you?

By Derek Brown
Published: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Identity theft results in substantial losses for a person when his credit cards are used to make substantial purchases by an identity thief. The person who is victim of such a theft loses his credit reputation badly and may be not be able to obtain mortgage  and car loans. In US, the government does have any effective measures to prevent this kind of a crime. Reliance on banks for this matter is not credible, as signals are issued by the fraud detection systems of a bank only after one to two fraud transactions have actually occurred. The fraud recognition systems in banks are designed to send only genuine fraud signals and not fake fraud signals to the users, due to which they are slow in sending warning signals to customers.

Regular bank account monitoring helps in the detection of out of the line transactions, like withdrawals. A customer can follow the precautions listed below to prevent any kind of an identity theft from happening with him:

  • Extreme caution is necessary when ATM’s are used for extraction of money. The PIN number should be learnt to withdraw money through an ATM. If it needs to be written, then it should not be written on an ATM card which is placed in a wallet and is vulnerable to theft.
  • Information should not be shared with any company on phone or through email. Check the authenticity of an organization before disclosing any private information by calling its customer service representative through the phone number mentioned on the account statement. Information like social security number and mother’s maiden name should not be disclosed unless the transaction is started by someone. Post scam alerts are listed by companies on the websites if their names are used inadequately by fraudulent people.
  • All the files containing private data like social security number and birth dates, should be disposed off after destroying the papers with a cross-cutter shredder.
  • Information should not be shared with financial institutions in their credit schemes. To avoid such credit offers, the pre screening opt out number of credit reporting industry can be called.
  • Use of anonymous ATM’s should be avoided, as they can be manipulated to read data from someone’s credit card strip.
  • Monthly credit card statements should be scrutinized as soon as they are received. When transactions through a debit card are to be made, it is advisable to sign for verification purposes rather then putting in the PIN number.   
  • Email spam should be discarded from the inbox when they are received. These mails should not be responded to by answering personal questions. Millions of identity thefts occur per year through such organized schemes when company databases are captured and such fraudulent mails are sent.

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