Of course, this means that you have to familiarize yourself with the potential dangers you are exposed to when documents containing personal information are accessed by thieves. The best way to prevent identity theft is to be aware of all your personal ID numbers, such as bank accounts, driver's license numbers, SSN, credit card numbers and so on.
Do not share or lose important documents
There are many ways in which a thief can get access to your personal information. Once they have access to it they will pretend to be your legal representatives and will operate all sorts of transactions using your identity. You can however prevent identity theft by always being aware of the whereabouts of your personal information. Make sure to store all important documents in a safe and hidden spot in your home and keep on eye on them while at work. Do not share sensitive information with people that claim to be representatives from a bank or any other institution – check them out first and see if they really are who they claim to be. Being a little suspicious with anyone demanding personal information is one of your best defenses against identity theft.
Proper document disposal prevents identity theft
Beware of “dumpster divers” – a name used for thieves that retrieve personal information from the garbage you throw out of your home or workplace. Try to prevent identity theft by making sure documents, envelopes, faxes and printed e-mails are disposed of properly – by using a paper shredder – nut just crumpled up and thrown in the waste basket. There are various effective paper shredder models available on the market and they will increase the security of your discarded documents. In fact, shredders are an accessory required by the new 2005 FACTA law for any business that has one or more employees.
Online identity theft techniques
Spoofing tricks the user into giving the perpetrator personal information, such as credit card numbers, the social security number, diver's ID and so on. Internet identity theft is even more dangerous than regular ID theft, where the thief steals personal documents or recovers personal information from the garbage. With a stolen wallet, you are at least aware that you might become a victim of identity theft. On the other hand, the Internet identity theft schemes will leave you clueless and it might take months before you discover the theft. E-mail spoofing uses addresses and headers that make the e-mail seem like it was sent by a trusted source. IP spoofing allows thieves to get unauthorized access to a PC while link alteration redirects users to the hacker's site. Here are a few tips, recommended by the FBI, that will allow you to decrease the chances of falling a victim to Internet identity theft.
Tips on avoiding ID theft
Access websites cautiously – especially if you follow a link from an e-mail. Internet identity theft is often triggered by unsolicited mail – never give out any personal information to such e-mails. Some spoofing techniques warn you that your account (e-mail, Pay Pal and any other type of account) is in danger of being terminated if you do not provide your password or other information – be aware of such schemes. Online payment is quick and easy, but always go with a trusted intermediary and payment processor. Your ISP should learn about any form of internet identity theft, which will enable them to prevent future problems. Secure sites begin with a “https” in the URL address bar. There should also be a lock symbol (icon) in the bottom part of your browser.
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