Every year there are approximately 15 million people in the U.S who are victims of identity theft. Have you ever traveled abroad and had your debit card decline, knowing that you have a substantial amount in it? Many banks like Chase and Bank of America ask that you notify them prior to traveling abroad because there is a rise in identity theft.
Before, you only had to worry about getting your identity stolen through the mail, but now anyone can easily track down your bank accounts simply by going online. Banks ask you to notify them prior to traveling, that way they know it’s you who’s using your debit card when you travel to a foreign country. This is just one of many ways that finance companies can help protect your assets.
Common Types of Identity Theft
There are many ways you can become a victim of identity theft. This is why it’s important to be aware of the various ways that malicious identity thieves can hack into your personal information. Financial identity theft is the most popular kind of identity theft because it involves your money and personal information. Thieves can get access to your information through:
- Dumpster diving: Thieves can go through your trash and get important information, such as your social security number and bank account information.
- Lost or stolen wallet: Thieves can easily access your license and credit card accounts and leave you with nothing.
- Phishing/Vishing: Identity thieves contact you via e-mail, text, or over the phone to confirm your personal information such as your address, bank accounts, and even pin numbers.
- Shopping online: Thieves can easily access your address and credit card numbers if you don’t visit trusted, secure websites.
Identity thieves have gotten more creative and more resourceful than ever in the past few years, so it is imperative to be cautious when it comes to using forms of payment other than cash and safely tucking away important documents.
How to Prevent Being a Victim of Identity Theft
You can never be too careful when it comes to your personal information. After all, you don’t want anyone taking your money or ruining your good name and credit score. You’ve worked hard for everything you have, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your assets. Here are some tips to prevent various types of identity theft:
- Buy a shredder or make sure all your mail is ripped up to the point where no one can read important information. Use a pen to scratch out your personal information before ripping it up.
- Never carry important information like pin numbers or your social security card in your wallet. Immediately make a police report if you’ve been robbed and notify your financial institution, so they can freeze your accounts.
- When you receive suspicious e-mails, texts, or phone calls, don’t reply or give any personal information. Immediately notify the company or email provider. They can help track the person or confirm a phishing scam. Never give anyone your personal information through e-mail, phone, or text.
- When entering your personal information online, such as a credit card number when paying for a purchase, make sure you trust the company. Check their ratings and also make sure the website’s URL has an “s” before or after the “http” – denoting a secure site. Also, log off or turn off your computer when finished, so your information will not be stored.
- Protect your smartphone as you would your credit cards.
Remember that identity theft can happen almost anywhere. Never let anyone borrow your credit card or social security number, no matter how much you trust him or her. Be aware of your surroundings because identity thieves are everywhere. Also, check your credit score once a year. Your credit score will list your credit history, which includes the credit cards you have and it lists activity happening. If you see something off, notify the company immediately. Millions of people are victims of identity theft, take the necessary steps to protect yourself from these malicious thieves.