Watch your Back

Keep your Identity
In 2001 there were nearly ½ million identity theft victims. These are people who actually filed police reports in the the USA because their identities had been stolen.

With today’s technology, it is very simple to assume someone else’s identity. If you go to the hardware store and write out a check for $100, the check has your full name and the back of the check may show your name, address and phone number. It also has the name of the bank where your account is held, as well as your account number.

Some people ask for your driver’s licence to be written on the back of the check, as well as your date of birth. Some may ask for your work number, or your mobile phone number. With these details, they can call and find out where you are employed.

This check passes through other employees of the hardware store and then goes to the bank-clearing house. From there it goes to the bank before finally going to another company for shredding. Just look at how much information has been given on that little piece of paper on one day.

Guard Your Information
ID theft started a number of years ago. The saying used to be; “If I can get enough information I could probably apply for a credit card and use the card for a couple of weeks before I throw it away.” Nowadays, it is more like; “If I can get enough information I can get a car, a mortgage, a new driver’s licence, a credit card and I can do so many other things.”

It’s now become one of the simplest scams in the world. No one has seen your face or knows who you are, but they have been able to steal your identity. Unfortunately we live in a time where it is very easy for someone to steal from you and the chances of this happening are increasing daily.

8 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
Here are some steps that may help you reduce your risk of identity theft:

  1. Watch your credit report: The credit agencies have a lot of information about you. These companies may be able to alert you to any activity in your financial records that are out of the ordinary. There are companies that can notify you whenever someone else applies for credit in your name, or checks out your credit records. You can then take action and call the person and ask them whey they are checking your credit (if it is not someone you have authorised). It may be completely legitimate, but it is better to be on the safe side.

  2. Buy a shredder: Identity thieves use information that is included in rubbish to obtain personal information. Shred all your old records and bank statements, including credit card slips and anything else you don’t need. File the rest of your documentation into filing cabinets that have a lock. More and more people are using shredders to protect their privacy.

  3. Remove your name from marketing lists: Find any marketing lists you are on and ask them to remove all your records. Removing your name will reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you may receive.

  4. Watch your wallet. Watch out that you don’t lose your wallet in a crowd. If you have more than one credit card, keep one in your wallet and store the others at home in a safe place. Don’t give out your tax number or your driver’s licence number. Don’t give out any other important identity documents, except where needed, because they may give thieves ready access to your information.

  5. Keep duplicates: Make sure you have the contents of your wallet duplicated and kept elsewhere. This includes copying your driver’s licence number, credit card numbers and other important information so you have a backup, including the expiry dates and phone numbers, etc. should your wallet be stolen.

  6. Watch the use of ATM machines: Be careful when using your credit card or EFTPOs card to take money out of ATM machines. Pick up any slips that come out of the machine relating to you and don’t leave them lying around. Make sure no strangers can see your pin numbers.

  7. Monitor your credit cards: Examine your credit card statements when they arrive each month. If you don’t use department store accounts, or other credit cards, close them. Watch your credit cards to see that all payments are legitimate.

  8. Watch what you say on the telephone: Never give your credit card number or personal information over the telephone unless you are the one who initiated the call and you trust the business or the person you are talking to.