Thursday, October 29, 2015

Identity Theft - What You Need To Know To Stay Safe

What do you think of when someone says that they have had their identity stolen?  If you are like most people, you immediately assume that a criminal has gotten some of their actual credit cards and used them to make unauthorized purchases.  If you are someone who uses your personal computer or mobile device for a lot of transactions, you may even think that some malware that stole a credit card number from an online transaction.  While these are excellent examples of what can happen when someone steals specific financial information, they are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to what can happen when your entire identity is stolen.

Identity TheftIf you become a victim of identity theft, your credit history and credit score are important concerns.  But, there is a lot more on the line.  A criminal who is able to access your birth date, social security number and address can essentially assume your entire identity for a number of purposes that might not immediately come to mind.  They might obtain identification in your name and use that identification if they are arrested for a crime.  An undocumented person could potentially use such identification to pose as a citizen, gain employment, or receive healthcare under your identity.  An identity thief could even get married using your name and information.  The possibilities are almost endless.  The amount of work that you might have to do to clean up a mess like this is mind boggling.

There are a few things you can do to keep your identity safe.  Be very careful what sensitive information you share with others over the phone and online.  Sometimes, a thief will send out what are known as phishing emails.  These emails may look like they come from your bank or your phone company.  Don't respond to these emails if they request sensitive information like your password or social security number.  Contact the company directly to find out if they actually need to talk to you.  Reputable companies will almost never ask for your passwords in any context.  

Keep your sensitive documents secure.  Lock up your birth certificate and social security card when they are not being used.  Secure your online information by using anti virus and anti malware software on your personal computer.  Use strong passwords make up of a combinations of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols.  While it is impossible to keep your identity completely safe all of the time, Identity Guard® can provide you will tools and support to greatly increase your security and peace of mind. 

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