Id theft, it's never going to happen to you, right? Well I am sorry to say that it is something that all of us are at risk from and it only takes one slip and your identity could belong to someone else.
Thieves are becoming smarter and smarter and there are now lots of ways they have devised to try and obtain your personal information that will enable them to steal your identity and use it for ill-gotten gains.
Once your identity has been stolen and used to open bank accounts, take out loans, used for speeding tickets etc. and generally ruin your good name, it can sometimes take years to sort out the mess.
There is no time like the present to make sure that you are protecting yourself from these thieves. Follow the steps below and make sure ID theft doesn't happen to you. Protect your frugal living lifestyle by knowing the traps that could cost us lots of money.
Phishing emails - Have you ever had an email sent to you from what looks like a well known company asking you to update your account records etc just by clicking a link?
If so it was no doubt what is known as a phishing email and these should be deleted without delay.
Any honest company will never email you and ask you to click a link contained in the email.
Instead they may ask you to telephone them using the telephone number on your account records or to log into your account by visiting their site directly by you typing in their website address.
Bottom line: If you get an email from anyone asking you to click a link to update your records or asking you for any personal details whatsoever, simply hit the delete button.
Credit Card Receipts - It always amazes me how many people don't take their credit card receipts or ATM receipts. Often these contain the account number and bank name and even this small amount of information could be enough to obtain further information about you.
Bottom Line - Make sure you take your receipts and if not needed make sure they are torn up and disposed of responsibly.
Shredding - Any document which has your name and address or account numbers or any personal information which is about you should be shredded to prevent ID theft.
Personal shredders are inexpensive and easy to use and will ensure that all your personal information is kept private. However even some people who have used a shredder have still been exposed to Id theft, how?
By not making sure that their shredder cross cuts their documents. It is still possible for thieves to piece together documents unless they have been cut into tiny pieces.
Bottom Line - Shred all your documents and make sure you buy a cross cutter shredder.
Passwords - Many of us now use the Internet for our banking and why not? It is convenient and quick. However, be aware that when creating your passwords for these sites that you do not use obvious words, like your surname, birth date or street name.
The best way to create a password is to make sure that it is at least 8 characters long and contains both letters and numbers.
It is also important that you do not use the same passwords for all your online accounts.
If someone has a lot of your details and guesses one of your passwords, then you don't want to make it easy for them to access all of your accounts.
Bottom Line - Protect your money by using difficult unguessable passwords; use different passwords for different accounts.
Credit Reports - It is advisable to check your credit report from time to time to ensure that there is no fraudulent activity going on and also to make sure that there are no errors on your records.
Mistakes do happen and the quicker you catch them the easier you will be able to sort them out.
There are a few agencies you can obtain your credit report from:
www.annualcreditreport.com - for the USA
www.experian.co.uk - for the UK
Travel Light - What I mean by this is that whenever you leave the house only take with you the minimum of money, credit cards and Id that you will require for that trip.
That way if you do lose your wallet you will be able to quickly contact the agencies concerned to cancel them. There's nothing worse than losing everything and being left for weeks with no easy access to your money or worse worrying if your Id is being used for fraudulent activity that may come back and hit you later.
Bottom line - never carry your checkbook. Don't carry documents with your name and address on them unless necessary and keep your credit cards etc to a minimum in your wallet. Don't make Id theft easy.
A frugal living allows you to become aware of not only how to spend your own money but it also makes you aware of how others try to get there hands on your money too.
A great resource about ID theft http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
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