Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

Guide 2 Identity Theft



Basic Information
 What is Identity Theft
 How It Happens
 Types of Identity Theft
 Warning Signs

Commercial Identity Theft
 Access Codes

Watch Out For
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Security Tips
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 If Your Identity Is Stolen
 Secure Passwords


Guide 2 Identity Theft   >   Tips

Identity Theft Tips

The best defence against identity theft is to be always aware that a thief may be lurking nearby, and to take steps to make it as difficult as possible for him:-
  1. Do not carry all your credit cards and other identification details in your wallet or purse, only those you need every day.

    • If your wallet or purse is stolen, it will be less of a problem to manage
    • If you do lose your wallet or purse, it can be a relief to have a backup available

  2. Keep all your personal identification material in a secure place in your home when not being used, preferably under lock and key.

  3. Keep the telephone and card number details you need to cancel your credit cards readily available as backup: somewhere other than with your cards in your purse or wallet, in case you lose them. This is especially important if you are travelling

  4. Lock your mailbox, or use a post box. If your mail volume suddenly changes, check in case it has been redirected by an identity thief, either at the post office or for just specific mail such as your credit card statements. A clever identity thief can prolong his use of your stolen credit card details by preventing you from seeing your statements.

  5. Check your bank balances regularly, and all your other transaction statements such as for credit cards, promptly when received, to look for any irregularities.

  6. Never let your credit card out of your sight at retail shops or restaurants.

  7. When travelling you should also keep backup details for your passport number and other important identity information. To speed up your passport replacement, should you lose it when travelling, you will often find it helps to have an official birth certificate available in your back up documentation, alongside such other details as your camera serial number, spectacle prescription, etc.

  8. Never give important identity details, most especially details like PIN numbers or passwords, if requested over the phone or by email. Such requests are almost certainly a scam. Promptly delete the email or hang up the phone.

  9. Make sure that you are not being watched when entering your debit card PIN number. Remember it. Do not carry it in writing with the card.

  10. Keep your PC secured against spyware, especially if you use Windows and are connected to the internet, because malicious programs such as keystroke logger programs can collect and send vital details, such as your bank account log in codes, to criminals without your knowledge.

  11. Do not use other people's computers (especially not cybercafes) to access private information such as bank accounts, credit cards statements, etc., or to make online purchases, because you never know - these computers may be infected with spyware or keystroke loggers.

  12. Use obscure question and answer information for password recovery options, information that is unique to you. A determined identity thief could fairly easily find your mother's maiden name from public records, for example. He is much less likely to be able to come up with the name of your first puppy or your favorite movie star, for example.

  13. It is a good idea to get in the habit of changing your passwords every month or two, where you have this option. That way any break in your security is short-lived, and the identity thief must start again. Your passwords should be hard to guess by avoiding obvious names or dates, and by mixing letters and numbers where possible.

  14. Do not display important identity details unnecessarily. Your social security number, medical insurance identification, driver's licence, military identification and other such personal identity information, other than perhaps your name, address and telephone number, should be kept well secured. They should not be readily available where you study or work, especially on public forms or notice boards. This information should not appear on any business transaction documents, such as receipts: object if it does.

  15. While you may think it convenient, such detail should not be pre-printed on your checks, and preferably use some less sensitive form of identification when presenting your checks, if you still use checks.

  16. Only provide this information when necessary, not just because it was asked for, even when dealing with legitimate businesses. Does the requester have a legitimate reason for wanting this information? Refuse to give it unless they have. A "need to know" policy - only those who need the information should have it - is the corner stone of most security systems.

  17. Be very aware that you may be overheard when giving personal identification details verbally, and take appropriate precautions.

  18. Avoid giving sensitive identity information by email or telephone, especially mobile telephone, as these are not fully secure means of communication.

  19. Be very careful what personal identification goes out with your trash. Shred (crosscut) old credit cards, business transaction and correspondence details, statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc. Just learning your account number with a company from an invoice may enable an identity thief to buy from that company in your name.

  20. Be alert to your vehicle registration plates being stolen. Change the type of screws used to a less common type, such as one with a square-driving slot, to make casual theft more difficult.

  21. Exercise your rights to periodically check what information is held about you at credit companies, direct marketing companies and other sources that an identity thief could conceivably access. Search occasionally for your name on the internet. What you find could lead you to ask for less personal identification material to be available publicly through corporations. It may also give you warning of the activities of an identity thief using your name.

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