What is Identity Theft? How can I protect Myself from Identity Theft? What to do after your Identity has been Stolen

How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a very real and scary thing. What makes identity theft so scary is that victims usually do not know their identity has been compromised until considerable damage has been done. While it is never too late to repair your credit after identity theft, it may be a very difficult, time consuming and expensive process (see Hiring an Attorney to Help Repair Credit). In order to protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands, it is important to know how thieves steal your identity.

One way that thieves steal your identity is by digging through your trash. This is known as dumpster diving. If you have thrown away any documents that have your personal information on them, you are putting yourself at risk of identity theft. Personal documents include things like: bank statements, payment stubs and even pre-approved credit offers that you receive in the mail and throw away unopened. It is very important that you shred any documents that contain personal information about yourself before you throw them away.

Thieves also obtain personal information from unsuspecting individuals by impersonating financial institutions. If you receive a phone call from a financial institution and they are asking for personal information so they can update your file or provide you with additional services, it is important that you not give out any personal information. Instead of providing your information, ask the individual for a phone number where you can call them back. Then, find the phone number for your financial institution that was printed on your last statement and call that number to see if the need for information is legitimate. Keep in mind that financial institutions already have your personal information and should not call you requesting a confirmation of that data.

Another way that thieves may get personal information about you is by stealing your purse or wallet. For this reason, it is important that you only carry what is essential in your purse or wallet. It is generally not a good idea to carry every credit card you own or your social security card with you every day. Also, you should know what you carry in your purse or wallet so that you can contact all the necessary companies and cancel your accounts.

Your personal information may also be stolen online. Whenever you are making online purchases or providing personal information over the Web, make sure that you are doing so through a reputable site. Sometimes, identity thieves will set up sites that mimic authentic sites as a way to get personal information from Web users. Most companies that offer products for purchase on the Web provide buyers with an email notification about their purchase order. After making online purchases, be sure to check your email to look for these confirmations. In addition, hackers are constantly looking for ways to breach online security systems that protect consumer information. In some states, businesses are required to inform people if their personal information has been compromised. For this reason, it is important for you to keep an eye on your credit report and make sure that you can account for all of the information it contains about your credit history.

It is important to be aware that your personal information can be stolen anywhere at anytime. While there is no guarantee that you will be able to protect yourself from identity theft in all circumstances, following the steps discussed in this article should make you less vulnerable to identity theft.