This is a guest post by Jacelyn Thomas. If you’d like to guest post on this blog, click here.
With such a significant portion of our lives now taking place online, there are more and more instances and opportunities for fraud and misuse of personal information. We purchase things online using our credit cards, we conduct business online, we put our personal information on social networks, and we email some of our most private and important information all the time. While the worry over identity theft has quieted some over the years, preventing identity theft remains a real concern. While much of the threat for identity theft and credit fraud is online, actual physical identity theft threats remain possible as well. One of the best ways to ward off dangerous and costly fraud is to understand how thieves access your personal information. These are some of the ways that identity fraud happens and why identity theft protection should be important to you. Understand the mind of the criminal to prevent identity theft from happening to you.
While this technique may sound outdated and, well, silly, dumpster diving is actually one of the more common ways that thieves access your personal information. While many people are becoming more aware of preventative actions for online theft, many are becoming less diligent with physical papers and documents that can make them vulnerable to fraud. Absolutely, it is important that you keep careful track of the documents you discard in your own home. However, one of the biggest problems is offices and companies discarding of papers containing your personal information in a way that is unsafe. For this reason, many companies use a paper shredder to securely and safely dispose of documents with any sensitive information on them. Thieves will rummage through the trash looking for bills or other papers with personal information on them. If these documents are shredded and spread across numerous trash receptacles, the likelihood of anything being stolen is greatly reduced.
Phishing has been a prominent problem online for some time. People will pretend to be a company or financial institution online and try to convince you to give them your personal information. It was with this technique that many people suffered identity theft when the internet was still young. These false companies will send pop-up messages or spam to you to try to get information from you. Today, most internet users recognize what sites, messages, etc. are phishing and what is not. However, it remains a threat online to your personal information’s safety. Of course, before entering any information into a website or even clicking on a button that pops up, you should carefully evaluate what that website or pop-up is and whether it is legitimate or not.
With this technique, thieves get your personal information by using false pretenses and then use that information with your financial institution to obtain access to your finances. For example, someone might call you asking for personal information, such as your address, birth date, or social security number (a huge indicator of fraud), claiming to be someone who might legitimately need that information. Once they have obtained your information,
they may call your bank, pretending to be you and is able to access your accounts. While this method is not necessarily one of the most commonly successful, it is a threat to your personal information and identity. Pretexting is against the law. No person is legally allowed to use false statements or documents to get your information from a bank or other institution.
Doing your best to understand the mind of a thief is a great way to prevent identity theft from happening to you. If you are cognizant of the practices of dumpster diving, phishing, and pretexting, you should be way ahead of others who are uninformed in the ways of stealing your precious identity.
This is a guest article by Jacelyn Thomas. Jacelyn writes about identity theft protection for IdentityTheft.net.
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