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Identity Theft And How To Protect Against It

Few challenges in life could be as personally disturbing as knowing that someone else is using your good name and identity to evade taxes, fraudulently buy goods and conceal their real identities. Yet this kind of crime happens every day. This article will discuss how identity thieves achieve their crime and how you can protect yourself from identity theft.
So how do fraud artists get your identity in the first place? Well, the targeting of victims is usually an opportunistic crime. The individual, whom is vulnerable, crosses the path of the criminal and the information necessary for identity theft is stolen. This underlines the importance of taking precautions in order to avoid identity theft. Most of the stealing of personal information that leads to identity theft still takes place offline.
Often the personal information is lost because of a careless moment of inattention. An unlocked car is left for a moment while the owner buys a small item or pays for gas. The thief enters the car and takes the identification. By the time that the owner of the car realizes what has been lost, it's too late.
Identity thieves will also search garbage or "dumpster dive" for personal information. Credit card or bank statements, forms with social insurance or social security numbers on it, or even new credit card offers are of use to identity thieves. In the case of the new credit card offers, what the thief will do is respond to the offer and then have the statements forwarded to a new address under the pretense of having moved. The debt accumulates in your name and only too late; you find out that you owe a lot of money.
If possible, use a shredder to shred personal documents. These would include credit card and bank statements, credit card offers and any documents that have official personal identifying numbers on them. Obviously part of the effectiveness of this effort to prevent identity theft depends on the involvement of businesses, government agencies and banks. For their part, most of these organizations are helping to protect individual's identities.
If you don't have a shredder, then it's important to realize that only a small part of most documents really needs to be destroyed. For example on a bank statement; your name, address, the account number, the bank number and bank transfer number are the only pieces of information that can help an identity thief. These numbers tend to be bunched in one area of the statement. Cut out and destroy that part of the statement. The rest of the statement is of no danger if it can't be linked to a person or an account.
Another area to be wary of giving out personal information is on the telephone. Never give your social security number or a similar government identification number on the phone. Identity thieves, on occasion, have been known to impersonate government officials, bank officials, or even police officers over the phone. Don't fall for it. No government or bank representative will ever ask for personal information in a telephone conversation. Ask to meet them at the bank, government office, or police station. Most likely, you'll never hear from them again.
Another tool used by identity thieves is to send a false email to you online. They will ask for personal information and threaten you with a deadline or the closure of your bank account. This is called phishing and the best answer is to call your real bank and talk to them on the phone or in person.
If you take these precautions, then you will not present yourself as a victim of opportunity. If identity thieves are nearby, they won't have a chance to make your identity into their next target for criminal exploitation.
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