Protection Against Identity Theft

Today, you hear more and more people becoming the victim of identity theft and wonder how you can protect yourself. Thieves have a way of finding out everything they need to steal your identity from simple things such as your credit card, debit card, or even your telephone calling cards. The worst news is that the General Accounting Office recently reported that 750,000 people are victims of this crime each year.

Things to watch out for include emails that appear to be from your bank, Paypal, or other internet payment centers. The thieves use a cloned website that looks just like the organization and many people do not even consider the website is not their true banking facility. Remember; if any of these organizations contact you they will in fact use your name instead of just a dear sir/madam. The best way to ensure the email is really from your bank is to pick up the phone and call.

Never ever, put personal information into a form on a website unless you know the website is secure, it is a company you have done business with before, and you trust. Many of these companies, included may sell your information to third parties that will begin to spam you and may even charge your credit card.

Types of Identity Theft

The most common kind of identity theft is, not unsurprisingly as you may well imagine, credit card fraud. However, there are more types and the following list shows where the risk lies and what you need to look out for when you are active in the digital world:

How to Prevent Identity Theft

Sometimes, with identity theft it can feel like fighting an invisible enemy regardless of your level of self discipline. If so many people become victims, how can identity theft be prevented from happening to you? Here are some ideas you can learn how to protect yourself against identity theft.

Check your credit report three times per year at least.

Remaining informed about your finances is the first line of defense against stolen identity. Regularly checking your credit report can help you to identify any odd activity that might occur.

Are you aware that you can obtain a credit report every four months from each of the three credit bureaus? A good way of going about this is to get a report from one company at the start of the year, then one from another in the middle and then from another at the end of the year to keep yourself up to date. Then start the process all over again.

If that seems like a lot of hard work, you could visit a website like "Credit Karma" (It's free) for checking for unauthorized credit activity. You can do this whenever it's most convenient for you. Don't forget, a credit score is really an "I love debt" score! Don't worry about what the actual score is.

Be wary of other websites that claim to be free. For example, don't use as it is owned by TransUnion and it's not really free.

Check these identity theft red flags to look for on your credit report:

If you notice something strange on your report, you should take action immediately. If you didn't already know, you have the right to dispute any information that appears on your credit report that does not look right.

The first thing to do is notify the credit bureau so that they can start to look into the issue. They will contact the company that you're disputing the charge or inquiry from. It will depend on the severity of the claim, but you may need to supply further documentation for their investigation.

In any case, be sure to stay alert and aware of what you have to lose and always be thinking of ways to keep your personal details secure and avoid the attraction of unwanted attention from criminals.