Wednesday, 05 October 2016 03:43

Identity Theft Protection: The Basics

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Over 17 million people become victims of identity theft each year, with individuals over the age of 50 being especially at risk. With a growing number of data breaches reported annually, it is important to take steps toward protection against identity crimes.

Most identity theft occurs in the form of account takeovers or identity takeovers. Account takeover is the most common. It involves the fraudulent utilization of an existing open account and includes theft of credit card numbers or hacking into online banking accounts. Identity takeover occurs when an criminal opens new accounts using the name of an actual individual without that individual's knowledge. For example, a social security number is used to receive medical care In the name of the number's real owner, who will then be stuck with the bill.

  • While it is impossible to prevent identity theft, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of it happening to you.
  • Avoid sharing your social security number with anyone, and be especially wary of providing it to a hospital or physician's office.
  • Only use your home computer to conduct online banking. Make sure your anti-virus protection is up to date, and never open attachments or clicking links in suspicious email messages.
  • Be leery of telephone calls that purport to come from the Internal Revenue Service or Microsoft, especially if the caller demands personal or payment information. Hang up on these calls.
  • Consider putting a credit freeze on your credit reports at all three of the major credit bureaus. This can be especially useful if you don't plan to apply for any credit cards, mortgages, or loans in the near future.
  • Take care when using your mobile phone for banking on public Wi-Fi networks. Use the cellular network or personal Wi-Fi network that includes a password. Do not share your social security number, logins,or other financial information with friends or family members.

By taking these few steps, the risk of identity theft can be reduced significantly.


“Identity Theft: How To Protect Yourself Or Resolve It,” Nick Clements, Forbes


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