The consequences can be devastating when your private financial information gets into the wrong hands. Yet there are many ways you can help protect yourself on a daily basis, from taking precautions while online to checking your credit report periodically.
It is important that you act quickly if you fall victim to identity theft. Contacting the correct agencies and completing the necessary reports will go a long way toward minimising any damage to your financial wellbeing.
Banks: Immediately contact your bank. Alert them that you are a victim of identity theft, and request that a fraud alert be placed in your file.
Police: Report identity theft to your local police department. If the crime occurred somewhere other than where you live, you may wish to report it to law enforcement there as well.
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce or minimise the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Delete spam emails that ask for personal information, and keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date. Shop online only with secure web pages (check the bottom of your browser for an image of a lock or look for “https” in the address bar). Never send credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information via email.
Tear up or shred credit card statements, ATM, credit, or debit card receipts, bank deposit receipts, and other documents that contain private financial information.
Empty your mailbox quickly and get a mailbox lock.
At least once a year, obtain and review your credit report for suspicious activity.
Always be on the defensive with your private information. Never give out personal information to telemarketers or respond to emails from someone claiming to represent your bank, credit card issuer, a government agency, a charity, or other organisation. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company directly to confirm their claims.
Tips for Safe ATM Usage
Your card and PIN
When using an ATM
Guarding Your Personal Data
Identity fraud is a very specific type of crime where an imposter uses your name and credit records
Some say that it is impossible to insulate yourself completely against identity fraud, but you can protect yourself by following these tips:
Do not disclose your identity numbers (TIN, FNPF, etc.) casually. It is prized information for criminals;
Keep your credit cards and bank account numbers secure. Do not give them out to telemarketers who phone you.