Identity Theft is a well publicised and growing problem, in part fuelled by the boom in internet shopping and the ever increasing popularity of credit cards.
It may be impossible to prevent a totally determined identity thief, however, there are steps you can take to decrease your exposure to this crime.
The following steps, however, will make it harder for someone to steal your identity, which may just be enough to persuade the more opportunistic or lazy to pass you by.
8 Ways to minimise your explosure to ID Theft
1. If you move house then be sure to tell all the financial companies that you deal with, and ensure they have your new address. Consider paying a small fee to the Post Office to redirect your post to your new address for a few months. If you believe credit card companies or banks are still posting statements, etc, to your old address then consider cancelling your accounts.
2. If you are currently considering a new credit card then be aware that a small number of companies have begun introducing photo cards. These offer additional protection when used in person, though they obviously afford no extra protection in card not present scenarios, i.e., when used for internet purchases.
3. Never store PIN numbers or passwords where an identity thief could gain easy access to them. Ideally, you should never write them down at all but, if you must, then do not keep them in the same place as your bank or credit cards and avoid saving them on computers, especially if those computers are used in conjunction with any kind of file sharing applications
4. Keep cheques just as secure as you would cash. If you wouldn’t leave cash in your letter box then why would you leave cheques there? Identity thieves are known to riffle through bins… letterboxes are so much more cleaner and, potentially, far more rewarding to them.
5. Be aware of hidden cameras. Prying eyes in shops and at ATMs can often be spotted but small, covert cameras are also often employed in order to acquire card numbers and PINs.
6. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are withdrawing cash from an ATM then stop, move away or find another machine if you feel you are being watched or are uncomfortable in any way.
7. Purchase a good quality shredder. Destroying private and personal information with a shredder is, perhaps, the most effective way of protecting such information. There have been many cases of identity thieves rummaging through rubbish, a practice that is actually legal in many countries, in order to find personal information. If you don’t need it.. shred it!