Protection From Identity Theft
Is All About Diligence

When it comes to protection from identity theft, it's difficult to guarantee that we will never become a victim. But we can minimize our risk by taking certain steps to guard privacy.

For Internet identity theft protection, there's a separate article at Software Protection For Internet And IP Address Identity Theft

Here, we'll be discussing steps for identity theft protection in our physical environment.

By following these steps, we can ensure that our personal information remains our own and is not used to commit fraud. This could save us thousands of dollars and years of headache... and we can avoid being another statistic in this fastest growing crime.

1. Protection From Identity Theft... The Cost To Victims

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, people who had their identities stolen spent more than $1,400 in out of pocket expenses to clear their name.

Many of these people also experienced higher interest and insurance rates due to their weakened credit standing. Some even had to spend hours haggling with creditors and collection agencies that refused to clear their accounts in spite of the evidence that an ID fraud had been committed.

2. Steps To Take For Protection From Identity Theft

Protection from identity theft is possible if we are diligent and take the proper steps to ensure our identity's safety. Let's take a look at what those steps are...

  • Request your credit report each year and check the reports for anything that doesn't look correct.

    In the USA, a new federal law entitles all consumers to ask each of the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- for free copies of their reports once every twelve months. For how to go about this, see the FTC's Protection From Identity Theft.

    In the UK, the credit reference agencies are...

    1. Call Credit
    2. Equifax
    3. Experian

    Credit reports can be ordered online.

  • Buy a shredder to destroy receipts, bank statements, credit offers, physician details etc. Identity thieves may pick through trash or recycling bins looking for personal information.
  • Checking bank account statements every one to two weeks online or at an ATM has been shown to provide protection from identity theft. 70 percent of identity fraud is detected by the victim.

    The Javelin study showed victims who use electronic methods for monitoring account activity suffer losses of less than one eighth that of those who rely on paper statements.

  • Don't routinely carry identity documents. Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you actually need when you go out.
  • Eight percent of identity fraud results from stolen mail... so, deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at the local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from the mailbox.

  • We should never give out personal information in response to telemarketers or other 'phone enquiries. Identity thieves will use any ruse to get hold of our personal information. They pose as telemarketers, bank representatives, Internet service providers (ISPs), etc, to get us to reveal our Social Security number, account numbers or other identifying information. If in doubt as to the legitimacy of such requests, we should call back the marketers or financial providers.
  • Resist giving out personal information, such as date of birth, to commercial organizations. If copying of ID documents is a condition of doing business, such as for automobile hire, then ensure it is understood the copies will be returned.

For further information on the wider aspects of protection from identity theft, take a look at these other articles in the series...

3. Protection From Identity Theft... Supporting Articles


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