Automated teller machines (ATM) are a great invention. They are an easy way to get cash out of your account 24 hours a day. But you may not be the only person raiding your account. If you're not careful, someone could steal your person and financial information and leave you in financial trouble.
Some identity fraudsters use special machines to ‘skim’ card details from ATMs and other card machines. They then use these details to clone your credit card, which they can use until the credit limit has been used up or exceeded. Another option for identity fraudsters is to get hold of your ATM receipt. This may have card details which they can use for the same purpose.
Stealing Your Identity
Identity theft is the theft of personal information which can be used to identify someone. This is used to commit identity fraud by obtaining goods or services under a fake name or creating a whole new identity. Often, the theft of just one piece of identifying information is enough to give fraudsters access to the rest.
For example, identity fraudsters could steal your purse or wallet. In addition to cash, your purse or wallet may have a debit card, a credit card or a driver's licence. The driver's licence has your name, address and date of birth. These details can be used to apply for credit cards, loans, services, goods and even benefits. The same information may be stolen through burglary, mail theft or redirection, or computer hacking.
Are You A Victim Of Identity Theft?
There are many ways that you can tell that you might be a victim of identity theft – and some of them don't seem to have much to do with your finances. For example, if you find that people are tampering with your rubbish, this may not just be a social nuisance. Instead, it could mean that someone is going through your leavings looking for credit card and bank statements, official letters and more. If your post goes missing, this could be another sign of planned identity fraud.
Other signs are getting bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven't ordered. You should also look out for unexplained transactions on your credit card statement. And if solicitors or debt collectors are chasing you for debts that aren't yours, it may be time to investigate what's really going on. Too much of this and you could find that you get turned down for credit in spite of having a spotless record.
Protection Against Identity Theft
You don't have to take this lying down. First of all, get a copy of your credit file from Experian or Equifax. This will let you know if people are using your details to apply for credit.
If personal information or belongings are lost or stolen, report these to the relevant authorities immediately. This is particularly important with passports, driving licences, credit cards and bank cards. The sooner you report these, the sooner they can track where and when they are being used.
Keep passwords and PINs secure and don't tell them to anyone. Shred unwanted credit card or bank statements, ATM receipts and so on. That way no-one can use them to steal your personal information. Anything that you do want to keep should be locked away somewhere safe. That can be a drawer or safe or even a safety deposit box at your bank.
Finally, when you move house, get your mail redirected and let banks and credit card companies know when you move house. This will make it more difficult for a fraudster to steal your letters and your identity.
Joseph Kenny writes for the Card Guide, a site where visitors can compare credit cards . FinanceFool.co.uk offers more deals on UK credit cards .
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