Identity theft is fast becoming an epidemic in today’s society, and can be perpetrated in ways that many people would never stop to consider. Without ever realizing it, you might be leaving yourself open to having your very own identity stolen – and may not discover the full impact of its implications for many years to come. It’s all good and well to know that the threat exists, but this knowledge will do nothing to prevent it from happening unless you launch a full-scale identity theft prevention campaign.
First, let’s consider some of the ways in which you might be vulnerable. Although the thoughts of most folks automatically turn toward the internet when the subject of identity theft comes into focus, that’s not the only arena in which such a thing can occur. If, for instance, anyone should tell you that you’ll need to provide sensitive data – such as your social security number – over the telephone in order to receive some type of benefit, service or award, simply decline and disconnect. Chances are, you’ve been targeted as the potential victim of a scam that’s been designed to steal your identity.
Unless you’re familiar with the person with whom you’re dealing, or are filling out an official form for a legitimate personal or business purpose, information such as a social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and other types of data that might have a bearing on your individuality should never be divulged.
If you’ve ever used a credit card to order take-out food over the phone, you’re leaving yourself wide open to identity theft. Although you may have been doing business with the establishment for years, you’re probably not personally familiar with the individuals who may come into contact with that vital information. As a result, the numbers from your card might be lifted and used against you through the theft of funds, merchandise or your very identity. This same premise, of course, is true for any type of telephone purchasing that you might make.
A more subtle approach to identity theft would be the assurance that the person to whom you’re speaking with on the phone doesn’t want you to provide any sensitive personal information, but they’ll have ways of extracting other details about you that will help them to obtain the necessary data through which they can steal your identity. For instance, you’re talking to someone who cautions you not to give them your social security number or other critical information – in order to protect yourself – but then they’ll tell you that you have to provide the location of your birth and mother’s maiden name in order to have access to your “account" with them in the future. This type of information is often used as safeguards for those who forget their online screen name or password. Unfortunately, these same bits of data can work against you, when placed in the wrong hands.
Whether you’re online, on the phone or taking part in a business deal in a face-to-face arena, there are certain tips that you’ll need to remember in order to participate in a solid identity theft prevention plan.
Unless you know and trust the person with whom you’re speaking, never. . .
- Provide your social security number
- Agree to share bank account information
- ffer credit card numbers
- Share your driver’s license number
- Provide birth information
- Give maiden names or other sensitive family data
- Order food or other types of merchandise online or over the phone with a credit card
- Allow an unfamiliar company to withdraw funds directly from your bank account
For those who do banking or other personal transactions online, be sure to do so through a secure channel before entering vital information. This can be accomplished by using “https://" at the beginning of the web address, instead of “http://". By adding the “s", this tells the network that you want a secure channel, which will lock out attempts to capture your personal data.
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About the Author: Nikki Greene is dedicated to helping you become better informed when it comes to preventing identity theft. Sign up for her "Preventing Identity Theft Newsletter" and keep up with the latest trends, identity theft in the news, and how you can safeguard your identity: http://www.preventing-identity-theft.com/