Identity theft is a very real threat and something that actually does happen to people on a regular basis. This article will guide you through some of the steps you can take to stay safe and how to prevent identity theft.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the situation where a third party has procured enough information about you that they are able to successfully impersonate you.
The reason it is called identity theft is simply because that third party has technically stolen your identity and is using it as their own.
Identity theft will often be a precursor to activities such as obtaining fake passports and so on. Identity theft by its nature is normally used for illegal activities at some point down the line.
For example, someone may steel your identity and then use it to create bank accounts, perhaps use the overdraft facilities on those accounts and then disappear with the money.
When the banks realise something untoward has been going on and they come after the “account holder” they will be questioning you although in reality you had nothing to do with it.
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How to prevent identity theft from happening
If you would like to know how to prevent identity theft then you need to think about the ways in which someone could obtain information about you, and then create barriers to that being possible.
A very common way in which someone could gain documentation about you is by getting hold of documents – in particular letters from your bank which they could then use to gain more information.
As such, being very careful with the storage and disposal of any official documentation that contains personal details about you is key.
For example, bank statements and other documents that contain your personal details should be stored in a safe place within your house. Any documents that you dispose of should be done so in a secure manor – for example by shredding them rather than just throwing them in the trash.
How to prevent identity theft online
With more and more of our information being stored online, identity theft can often take place there. If you want to know how to prevent identity theft from taking place online then once again you need to think about your personal information, where it is stored and how safe it is.
In particular there points will help you understand how to prevent identity theft online:
- Be careful when submitting personal details online and don’t submit then unless you trust the website.
- Look for security certificates when submitting personal information to websites you are not familiar with – these sites use the HTTPS protocol and will normally display a yellow padlock in the address bar indicating that their ownership has been verified and that all data is sent in a secure and encrypted manor.
- Be careful when using services that store your information – in reality its best to minimize the places where your information is stored online because it is becoming more common for this information to become compromised.
- Always use secure passwords, use different passwords for different services and change them regularly.
How to prevent identity theft on Facebook
Social profiling is one of the key ways in which criminals cant start the identity theft process. So when thinking about how to prevent identity theft online, keeping your social media accounts secure is key.
Facebook in particular is notorious for holding lots of personal information about its users. Whilst this information is not normally available to anyone but the owner of the account, it is another source of information that could be compromised or even where the little public information that is available could be used to obtain more in depth information from other sources.
As such, when using Facebook you should again make sure you have a secure password and that you change it regularly.
In addition you should be cautious when adding personal information to Facebook and in particular you should make sure that your privacy settings are configured to not show any information to users that are not in your friends list. You should even configure it to only show minimal information to those that are in your friends list.