No matter what part of the world you may currently be in, Identity Thieves are lurking. They want to cause you harm for their own gain. They’re looking for any way to get your information and use it to open up new accounts under your name or simply get into your current accounts. But how do they do this? Let’s take a look at what these thieves are looking for.
1. Your Name
I once had a friend who I later found out was a con-artist. This friend is currently using one of our other friends’ son’s name. This is not uncommon for identity thieves and should be taken seriously. This is why I have stated before that you should always monitor your credit report, just to make sure new accounts don’t suddenly pop up under your profile. These accounts can do a lot of damage if you’re not watching things carefully.
Addresses may seem like a head-scratcher for some, but they do get abused by identity thieves. My father recently purchased a company from a woman who has used that address to bill purchases to, from another business. This nearly cost my father thousands of dollars in charges. Luckily, the company name was different and he was willing to take this company (creditor) to court over their threats. Your address can be used for many things, so it’s best to constantly look for anything suspicious regarding that address and always take action immediately!
3. Social Security Numbers
Most of us are smart enough to not just hand over our social security number to just anyone, but what about when you’re asked for that information by a company? This little 9-digit number can destroy your credit if the wrong person gets a hold of it, so don’t trust just anyone with it. Question the company or person who’s asking for this information, as it’s usually not even needed. There’s very few times when you need to hand over this number, so do your job to protect it. Unless the person works for a financial institution, they probably have no use for it. Always question people who ask for it, even if they’re just an employee for a company. Security breaches are known to happen and the storage and protection of this number should also be questioned.
4. PIN Numbers
Our banks and creditors always warn us about these numbers, and for good reason. PIN Numbers are stolen constantly and need to be updated if you ever feel like it may be too easy or too old. Recently hackers have targeted major consumer retailers, such as Target. Changing your PIN number isn’t that difficult, although it may require a phone call to your bank or credit card provider. Try to update your PIN number once a year if you can.
5. Bank Account Information
Bank account information is one of the top targets for identity thieves, as it makes it easy for them to take money from your account or simply make purchases once they’re in. Monitor your bank account activity on a daily basis if you can, and be sure to setup any monitoring offered by your bank(s). They usually handle this for you, but be sure that is the case, before it’s too late. If you see anything suspicious be sure to call your bank immediately!
6. Credit Card Numbers
Credit Card numbers are stolen constantly, usually due to weak security protocols by online shopping sites. Be sure to use only trusted websites when making transactions and do your best to never store your credit card information online. This doesn’t mean that offline shopping is safe. The same goes for any store you make purchases in. Look carefully at whom you’re using your card with and make sure their device hasn’t been tampered with. Major retailers can also be targeted by employees, so these stores aren’t 100% safe. Do your best to monitor your accounts and your credit report(s) to ensure that you haven’t had your card numbers stolen.
7. Credit Report
Many people throw out their credit reports without thinking about it. These credit reports hold a lot of personal information; information that can easily be used to create an entirely new identity. When you decide to toss out those reports, be sure to use a shredder, but also make sure that not all of those shredded files go into the same trash on the same day. Just because it’s shredded doesn’t mean it’s safe. Be wise and toss some of it into separate trash cans.
8. Birth Certificate
How often have you used your birth certificate over the years? Yeah, me neither. But identity thieves could be using it today if you’re not careful. Always keep these types of items safe, locked away from thieves. We barely need them in life, but they can be used easily by those who want to become you.
Many people don’t even use checks these days, yet they leave them hanging around the house. What do you think will happen if someone decides to break in while you’ve just hit the open road on that dream vacation to California? Before you get there you could end up with thousands of dollars gone from your account. If you’re not using them, lock them up so thieves cannot get to them. If you never need them, don’t order them and throw them away. It’s better to have to go to the bank for checks when you need them than to go to the bank because your checks were stolen when you didn’t need them.
10. Financial Statements
These statements can be anything from insurance to business loans. Lock them up so they’re not easily accessible and you’ll have less of a chance of becoming a victim. Credit card statements, Auto loans, health insurance, etc. – if they contain personal information, they can be stolen and used for others’ gain.
What To Do if You Become a Victim
Anyone can become a victim at any time. Don’t be naive and think it can’t happen to you! If you feel that you may be a victim of identity theft, please read this article.
Be careful of whom you give your information to and always ask questions if you feel the need to. Don’t fall for scams online, such as clicking fake URL’s, or purchase products from untrustworthy websites. There are plenty of ways that these thieves steal information, but you should keep this article in mind while making purchases, throwing out trash or giving information out when asked for it.