Identity theft, the mere words can strike terror into anyone who has ever been a victim of such a thing. For, they have literally stolen your identity, ordered numerous items, in your name and left you to pick up the very tragic pieces. But, how do people get hold of your name in the first place, and what should you do if you find yourself a victim of identity fraud?
Let us deal with the first question in reference to your name, and how people can get hold of it. One of the easiest ways in which your name can be ‘stolen’ is through your credit card. Anyone getting hold of another person’s credit card can effectively, ruin that person, financially. They can order items in the full knowledge that they will not be paying for anything, and that all the bills will go to the owner of the credit card.
Your name can be stolen through a number of ways. One of the ways in which your name can be stolen is through mail that is not properly disposed off. There have been many cases in which people have had their identity taken by means of others searching through litter and finding letters and even bank statements with the full name, address and even full account number.
Even if the statements are ripped, they can be put back together by thieves who have the ingenuity to piece all the main details [name, address, post code and so forth].. Ripped bank statements all thieves need to steal your identity. Other examples of identity theft involve bank receipts from ATMs. There have been many cases in which people,after using ATM terminals, carelessly leave their bank receipt dangling from the slot.
This is asking for trouble,as bank receipts contain all the information that anyone wishing to steal, would need.They are, in fact, golden tickets for people who wish to steal from your account. No matter how many times people are warned, the vast majority of people will still continue to carelessly leave behind their receipts from the ATMs. Receipts must always be discarded in the correct way, never leave them lying around for all to see.
Thieves who steal your identity will themselves open up bank accounts in your name, thereby gaining access to your money. Your identity can also be taken in other ways too because all that is needed, in many cases, is just a name and address. So, in order to stop this from happening, one has to take steps to deny potential thieves the information that they need.
One way of going about this is to dispose properly, of all mail that contain your name, address and bank details. You can do this in a number of ways. Any mail you do not wish to have you can burn [safely], therefore every shred of evidence about you, has gone. This is the only sure-fire way of disposing of all unwanted mail.
Of course, you could always purchase a shredder, and get rid of all your unwanted mail and private details You must make sure that your name, address, and any bank account details that you may have, are shredded sufficiently so that you cannot be stung in the future. Once you find out that you are a victim of identity theft, you must inform the police.
You must also inform the relevant authorities, which will include, credit card companies. If you have a credit report, [which you will almost certainly have] you must place a fraud alert on it. This will stop your account being pillaged, as it will prevent your account being opened in your name, without your creditor verifying it with you first.
Because home computer banking is the ‘norm’ now, and not really the exception, people really have to be aware of the pitfalls that could hit them. If you feel that your account has been compromised in any way, shape or form, [in other words,hacked], you must immediately change your password.
In fact, passwords should be changed, periodically to keep your account safe. You must also contact your bank, report what has happened and get them to put a temporary stop on your account. Thieves can quite easily transfer your funds from one account to another, if they have access, or know your details. Therefore, change your password periodically.
Ask the bank to put a freeze is on your account if you suspect anything suspicious going on. You will not be able to use it at all for a certain time period while a freeze is put on it.. During this time period the bank will watch your account very closely to see if there is anything unusual happening. What they are looking for is any attempt of a withdrawal from your account by unauthorised agencies/people.
If the bank notices unusual fluctuations in your account [attempts of withdrawals] after you have asked the bank to put a freeze on it, they wlll try and trace the person, using CCTV footage where at all possible. But, if you really do need a bank account, take what money you have left, out of your old account and tell the bank that you are closing it. Open up another bank account -obviously you will be given a new card with a new bank account and sort number.
So, to sum up. The steps that you should take if you are a victim of identity theft, are as follows: Inform the credit companies concerned as soon as you can. Ask the credit card company to place a fraud alert upon your credit report. What this does is stop anyone trying to gain access to your credit upon your card – without your creditor verifying it first with you. This stops an account being opened in your name.
If you bank Online, and you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft, change your password immediately. Passwords should be changed periodically to prevent such things from happening [ or at least it makes it harder for potential thieves]. Having done that, contact your bank, explaining to them what you believe has happened.
Ask your bank to put a freeze on your account – which is what they will do. While your account is frozen you will not be able to take money out, or place money in. Your bank will then keep a close eye on your account to see if there is anyone attempting an unauthorised withdrawal – if so, they can be traced.
Shred or burn every bit of evidence containing your name, address, and bank account details. Do not leave any mail containing such information lying around. If you do, you are asking for trouble, as thieves only need your name, and address in some instances,to steal your identity. So, all mail that you discard, discard properly [burn safely, or shred].
Never leave your receipts dangling from ATM machines after you have drawn your money out. Again, receipts have valuable information on them that could come in very handy to a potential thief. Most of the information contained in this article deals with common sense. It is all about being aware of any account you hold, and also aware of any money going in, and especially money going out.