Nowadays, identity theft is on the rise and hundreds of new cases are being reported on a monthly basis.
Though identity theft includes different type of fraud such as criminal identity theft, synthetic identity theft, medical identity theft and child identity theft, the most common is synthetic identity theft. In synthetic identity theft, a person steals the social security number or SSN of another and then replaces the original name and birth date with the fake ones and then apply for a credit card and misuse it by spending most of the amount (if not entire) to buy new products. With this kind of identity theft creditors are affected the most, however, in some cases individuals have also become the victim of identity theft but only when their names get confused with the synthetic identity.
For individuals, there are certain steps which can protect credit from identity theft, and they are:
Ensure that you haven’t been a victim in the past
If you’ve never took the time out from your busy schedule to check your credit report then do it now and check for transaction errors and signs of fraud. If any how you have lost your credit report then do not worry as you can get your credit report from various websites which provide free credit score report or one at very minimal fee. The credit report comprises of details of your identity and financial behavior and is also known as credit history so review it very carefully and look for:
1. Credit inquiries (also known as hard inquiries) that aren’t done by you.
2. Loans or accounts (if any) associated with it but you aren’t aware of.
3. Inaccurate personal information, like residence or office address that is not your own.
4. Current activity on accounts that have not been initiated by you.
If you find any inaccurate information in your credit report, it could be a sign of identity theft and upon verification, you may instantly file a complaint in your nearby police station and dispute the errors. The Federal Trade Commission has published a great guide on what to do if you believe that your identity has been stolen.
Once you are sure that your identity is safe or cleaned up from the fraudulent accounts (if any), it is the time to shield it for future by taking credit monitoring service from the leading credit reporting companies. By credit monitoring you can easily monitor your credit report on a daily basis and look for any major as well as minor changes and will also get email alerts on key changes (if any) and with this you can act immediately as soon as you suspect fraud.
Take preventative measures:
Most of the creditors allow people to set up email and SMS alert on their accounts so always opt for them. For example; you can request to receive alerts for each transaction done by using your credit card. Additionally, if you are a frequent online shopper, ensure that the website you are making payment on has taken required steps to protect your privacy and is secured with an SSL certificate and your credit card information is safe and secure and will not be disclosed to anyone at any cost. Though, most of the retailers use high protection SSL certificate on their website but data theft isn’t new so it is always better to keep your eyes open.
Protect your online accounts:
At last but not least, protecting yourself and your credit card should be one of your top most priorities and always keep that in mind. If you use internet banking or access any credit accounts online via computer or even on your smartphone, then take proper precautions and change your passwords more often and always use strong and difficult passwords and some websites even allow alpha numeric passwords. Never disclose your passwords to anyone even if it is your best friend too.
Joy Mali is an active blogger and shares extremely interesting financial management tips over the web that encourages people to check free credit report regularly & to build a working credit report for a happy financial life.