How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

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As our society becomes increasingly consumed with data and information, protecting our identity only becomes more difficult. Every time you use your credit card, especially online, or give out personal information, thieves see an opportunity to benefit from it. While fraudulent charges being made with your credit card is a commonly known form of identity theft, in extreme cases social security numbers are stolen and used by thieves to get jobs and hide their real identity.

Each year, over $50 billion dollars is stolen from Americans due to identity theft. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to become a statistic too. So how can you protect yourself from identity theft? The following are some tips that can help you protect your identity.

Update Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware Software

Internet identity theft is growing at a very fast rate, so protecting yourself in this area is critical. Your private information can be taken if spyware or a virus infects your computer. Your hard drive gets scanned by these programs and sends out whatever information it can find out to the internet. This problem can be eliminated however by protecting your computer with an anti-spyware and anti-virus program. You can find many free programs online, though I believe the pay ones such as Webroot Antivirus are more effective.

Phishing Scams

Identity thieves will try to using a technique known as phishing to obtain personal information. Identity theft phishing involves using online chat services or email and claim to be a company representative. For instance, they may tell you they represent your credit card company, PayPal, or your bank. They will tell you that they need some information from you. A very popular phishing scam is the fake lottery winnings that people receive in their e-mail from foreign countries. Simply ignore these. Don’t even bother to open the e-mail and definitely make sure that you don’t click on any links.

Telephone Scams

Anytime someone calls you asking for personal information, regardless of who they are or claim to be, don’t give it to them. People will call claiming to be your bank, a charity, or a credit card company. But that probably isn’t who they really are. These identity thieves can sometimes be very slick and end up getting your bank account or credit card number. While this type of identity theft scam isn’t quite as common now since many people have caught on, it’s still used because it works.

Credit Report

Each year, every US citizen is allowed to obtain one free credit report. There are three primary credit agencies that will send you a free report. Look through these reports to ensure that everything is correct and nothing is suspicious, such as new accounts that you never opened. You can also subscribe to a service that will provide alerts when your credit report changes to get even more protection.

While identity theft comes in many forms, these basic guidelines have given you some ideas on how to protect yourself from identity theft.

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