Imagine going to make a purchase with your credit card only to find that your account is maxed to the limit. If you are the only one that uses the card, then why didn’t you know this? This is a classic example of identity theft, when someone has swiped your credit card information from you and has gone on a shopping spree. Although this is devastating to say the least, this is not the only way that identity theft can affect you.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is defined as the cheating, or fraud, of the identity of another person. This person assumes another person’s identity and pretends to be them. The general reason that people steal other people’s identities is usually to obtain access to certain resources or to get credit. If the victim is held liable for the thief’s actions, this person can suffer major consequences depending on what the identity thief did with their identity.
Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen
A person’s identity can be stolen in a number of ways. Some thieves go dumpster diving, where they rummage through the trash for personal information. Others have high technology where they can obtain your credit card information without coming in contact with you. Some go through public records to get information on individuals that have been registered.
There are also other ways that your identity can get stolen that include social networking sites and computer hacking. A person’s identity can be stolen by someone guessing their social security number by using the information that is publicly posted on their social network page. A person can download a virus onto their computer that allows the thief to go through their entire computer and access personal files. More advanced ways of stealing identities include someone hacking into a company’s server and downloading an entire database of personal information.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
Active prevention is the only way that you can almost guarantee safety from identity theft. Although there is always some level of risk that you are in, you can take the proper precautions on your end to make sure that you are not making it easy for your identity to be stolen. The first and foremost thing to do to prevent identity theft is to never leave your information out for everyone to see. When filling out applications, determine whether or not the company really needs all of the personal information they are asking for.
Always put a password on your credit card accounts and bank accounts that is different than your mother’s maiden name. This is information that can easily be located by public records and can be input into your account to gain access. Check your credit report on a regular basis to ensure that the information that is on it is correct. If you find any discrepancies including an address that you never lived at, take action immediately and have the information removed.
Once you fully understand what identity theft is and how to prevent it, your chances of becoming a victim decrease immediately. Taking the proper precautions can save you a lot of money and a lot of heart ache. If you have become a victim of identity theft, take action immediately and cancel all of your cards. Also, make disputes immediately on information that is not correct.