In today’s modern world, identity theft is an on-going and ever growing problem. In short; identity theft means that someone poses as you using your personal information and uses it for their gain; financially or otherwise.
Most cases of identity theft involve the theft of credit card information which is then fraudulently used to make purchases which you haven’t authorised.
ID theft can go much further than that however, to where new credit cards can be opened in your name, a replacement passport or driving license can be requested and criminal records can be created in your name.
What are the risks involved with identity theft?
Well, ID fraud can have a significant impact on your personal finances. Quite often, small amounts of money are taken regularly which can mean it takes a while before you notice anything wrong. Sometimes though, a large amount of money may be spent or withdrawn from your account in a short period of time which could lead you to become overdrawn.
The risks can be as great as losing access to your own accounts in cases where someone gathers enough information to actually assume your identity in a day to day capacity.
In simple terms; identity theft can cause a real headache and unnecessary hassle in your day to day life.
How can my identity be stolen?
There are three main methods that thieves can use to steal your personal information.
The first is through traditional methods of taking details from discarded post and stationery; either from your bin at home or perhaps even from work premises.
Secondly, people still look over your shoulder when you are filling out information in a public space; either at a cash machine or perhaps filling out a form. Your card details can also be stolen from specially fitted devices on cash machines, or may be stolen when payments are made over the phone.
With data security breaches becoming more prominent in our online world, there is also a risk that your information may be stolen if an online database is hacked. This is unlikely though, as all companies invest significant sums into online security to reduce this risk for their customers.
How can I reduce the risk of identity theft?
Sadly, identity theft can happen no matter how careful you are but there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk.
Another option would be to shred all documents and paper which contains any personal details. Just your name and postcode can be helpful to a fraudster.
Be aware of who is around you when completing forms or entering details; try to shield whenever possible to prevent people from getting a good look.
When it comes to banking, protect private data such as PIN numbers and don’t share them with anyone. Check your bank statements regularly and review for any suspicious activity or fraudulent transactions.
Don’t use the same password; use different, cryptic passwords for every website you have to login to. The likes of ‘abc123’ or ‘password’ just won’t cut it when it comes to keeping your accounts safe in the online realm anymore. But; don’t write them down anymore in case they are stolen. Memorise, memorise, memorise!
When it comes to ID theft, it pays to be aware to help to reduce the risk of become a victim of identity fraud.