We live in a digital age. Fewer and fewer transactions happen face to face.
Instead, things are bought, sold, and traded online where you are identified by a few pieces of personal information such as your name, home address, credit card number, social security number, medical insurance account numbers, etc.
When someone steals this information without your permission, it’s known as identity theft.
Why can someone do with my identity
If someone steals your identity, you could be responsible he or she does. He or she can:
- Make purchases using your credit card or get new credit cards.
- Open new accounts for utilities such as gas, phone, or electricity.
- Get medical care that will be billed to you.
- Steal your tax refund.
- Give your identity if he’s arrested.
How can a thief get my information
A thief can get your personal information in several different ways. They can your mail from your mailbox or your garbage to get your Social Security number or account numbers.
They can try to get you to email them your personal information using phishing. They can steal your wallet or purse to obtain your credit card information and information from your driver’s license.
What are signs that my identity has been stolen
It can be difficult to know if your identity has been stolen. However, there are ways to stay on guard against identity theft.
- Be sure to check your bank account regularly, looking for transactions you did not authorize.
- Check your bills. If they stop coming or if you start receiving new bills you don’t recognize, you may be a victim of identity theft.
- Your credit report can also alert you to any fraudulent activity such as credit cards being opened under your name.
- You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
How identity theft affects credit
When you receive your credit report, it will tell you about your open lines of credit and how much money you owe. If any of this information is incorrect, it’s important to fix it.
Your credit score is used when you rent an apartment, get utilities, get a cell phone, or borrow money. If your identity has been stolen, the thief’s actions will reflect negatively on you.
How to prevent identity theft
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
When you’re conducting business, only give out your Social Security number if it’s absolutely necessary. Ask if you can provide an alternative form of identification.
- On Your Computer
When shopping online, make sure to use only secure websites.
Never put personal information on public computers.
Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus software running at all times. Never respond to emails that ask for personal information.
- At Home and Your Physical Mail
At home, take in the mail as soon as possible to reduce the risk of it being stolen. Shred any documents with personal information on them before throwing them away. Keep documents with your personal information on them in a safe, secure place.
Remember, anyone can be a victim of identity theft. Knowing how to protect yourself and your personal information will drastically reduce the chances that it will happen to you.
Just remember a few things:
- Protect your information both online and offline.
- Be really careful about protecting your Social Security Number.
- Check your checking, savings, and credit card balances often to identify unusual transactions.
- Check your credit reports periodically, or even sign up for a monitoring service.