Identity theft: How to prevent it?
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a pesky event causing lot of harm to a consumer's credit. The feeling that corrodes most is someone else has used my credit and has left all the responsibilities for me. Once the fraudulently opened accounts start appearing on your credit report, it will definitely lower your score because the ID thief is not likely to behave well with your credit.
How ID Theft occurs?
ID thieves take up numerous ways to scam people. It is good for consumers to know how they can get access to our personal information.
What happens when ID Theft occurs?
- By stealing or hacking the database of a business house.
- By stealing your wallet.
- They can steal your snail mail or email containing your personal information, or submit a change of address form and bypass your mails to their door.
- They can get your personal information from trash.
- They can steal your information through fake mails, phone calls and from duplicate sites purposefully build to scam people.
- They can pull your credit report by camouflaging as employer, creditor or land-lord.
The crooks can ruin your credit in a very short time. They can:
How can I avoid the scam?
- Open credit card account in your name.
- Take out bank loan to buy a car.
- Open a bank account with your information and write a number of bad checks.
- They may apply for a phone service in your name, obviously the bill will be charged to you.
There are few customs that can help you avoid identity theft. Have a glimpse:
- Do not carry extra credit cards with you that you do not need.
- Never disclose your SSN to a person who you do not know or send it out over an unsecured media.
- Keep a watch on your credit report regularly and make it a habit.
- Periodically check your bank statement.
- Close the credit cards that you are not interested to use any more.
- Do not have your SSN printed on your check leafs.
- You can stop pre-screened credit offers or ask credit reporting agencies to block your date of birth and SSN on your credit report.
- Do not respond to any email that states unrealistic message for you, like your bank account has been closed or craps like that. If necessary, type the website address of the concerned institution by your own, do not follow the link embedded in the emails.
These are few basic steps that can help you avoid ID theft. Still anyone can be a victim any moment. Scammers are on their way to innovate more and more methods to cheat people. God forbid, if it happens with anybody, following steps can save them from possible damages.
- File a police report immediately.
- Inform your bank, credit card company and other financial institutes that you have account with.
- Contact credit bureaus to place a fraud alert. By doing so, you receive an alert from the bureaus whenever some new credit activities are seen in your file.
- Go through the consumers manual published by FTC on Identity Theft and file your complaint with Federal Trade Commission as well.