How To Prevent Identity Theft

By: Enid Edginton

There are many ways that you can prevent identity theft. Your first step is to become aware of some of the more unusual methods that criminals can use to steal an identity.

A stolen identity can easily be obtained from something as simple as a carbon copy from your credit card receipt. Although most stores are phasing these antique mechanical card processors out of existence, there are still quite a few places that use them. They are very common at places like country fairs or exhibitions where there are no available NCR type cash registers (in which case you should bring cash and plan not to use your credit card at these events).

Unfortunately a crafty thief who can read your credit card number and expiry date from the carbon that is used to create your credit card copy can steal your identity. They can even see your signature using the carbon. These carbons are then used to make plastic hard replicas of your own cards and you have no idea that you have become a victim of identity theft until you get the charges on your credit card.

Yet another clever method that criminals employ to steal your identity is through the use of cell phones at ATM machines. During this scam an individual with the type of cell phone that can take photographs or tape video will try and capture your password. In this case individuals who are already aware of your credit card number often follow you.

A great deal of criminal activity actually takes place in retail stores by identity thieves working “on the inside.” They use a process called skimming which is copying the information on your magnetic strip with a device.

To prevent skimming keep an eye on the way as employees handle your card to make sure they are not copying or skimming your credit card number. The devices used for skimming are sometimes disguised as cell phones. After you make a purchase and your card is handed back to you, make sure it is your card and not a dummy card or another person's card.

Another important measure that you can take to prevent identity theft is to never give your ATM or credit card to a second party to use. You should always keep your PIN number in a separate place from your cards if you must write it down at all. Another pointer is to never tell anyone your PIN number.

One of the latest scams is a criminal who phones you up and says that they are with your credit card company and investigating a potential identity theft – then they ask for your security code number that is on the back of your card (three digits.) so that they can investigate the matter. Whatever happens don’t give them your information. This code is obtained thieves can use a victim’s credit card to shop online almost anywhere, completely anonymously.

It is also completely crucial to always keep your personal information completely private. Don't respond to any requests that you haven't initiated when it comes to providing sensitive data, such as date of birth, social security number, mother's maiden name or the 3-digit security code on the back of your card.

Another way to prevent identity fraud is to always make sure that you open up your monthly bills and read them to make sure that nobody is making extra charges on your credit card. It is amazing how many people just pay their bills without actually checking their credit card statements to see if it is correct.

Except for direct transactions or automatic transactions, try to deal with your financial institutions in person. Banks don't use e-mail communications to ask for personal information because e-mail is not secure.

If someone asks you for your account number hit the delete button and never respond to such an e-mail. Banks never ask that you never send detailed account information in an e-mail. This is because they are more than aware that criminals might intercept your e-mails. When you wish to address an issue that requires personal account information, visit your bank in person, use its secure web site, place a phone call or write a letter.

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