What measures do you take to protect your identity? More than 8.1 million people’s identities are stolen each year. In 2010 alone, $37 billion was reported in losses. But how do criminals access your information? Here are some common tactics used by identity thieves, and how to avoid financial identity theft:
By using emails or phone calls, thieves will act as a bank or government agency to gain personal information. If you think you may have given out personal bank information to a fraudulent source, be sure to immediately contact your financial institution to cancel your account.
Remember what you had to do after you accidently threw out your retainer in grade school? That is exactly what criminals do. But instead they are looking for personal information they can use, such as bills and credit card statements.
Credit Card Theft
By stealing your wallet or mail with your social security number, criminals can make purchases with your credit cards or use your number to open up new accounts.
As you can see, financial identity theft can happen to anyone, and your information is very valuable. Criminals can wreak havoc on your financial health by taking out loans in your name, using your banking account and ruining your credit score by racking up debt. In order to avoid the stress and financial turmoil caused by identity theft, it is crucial that you take the appropriate steps to keep your information private. Here are three ways to protect yourself from financial identity theft:
1. Shred important documents
To avoid dumpster diving, make a point to shred any trash that contains billing information, bank statements and junk mail that could list personal information.
2. Keep an eye on financial statements
Instead of simply filing away monthly statements, carefully review your accounts and look for any odd purchases or large withdrawals. Some criminals will make small withdrawals over time in hopes that the victim will never notice.
3. Create complex passwords
When developing a password for your email, bank account or online shopping account, be sure to avoid the most commonly used passwords such as 123456 and Password. Combining a random words (that cannot be found in the dictionary), numbers, symbols and capitalization makes it difficult for criminals to gain access to your accounts.
Financial identity theft can not only cause financial loss; victims are then hit with the stress of repairing the damaged credit and cleaning up the financial mess. But by shredding confidential documents, monitoring your accounts, and creating intricate passwords you can keep your identity well protected.