Identity theft

Identity theft is becoming increasingly common, with many more people suffering at the hands of ruthless individuals. Many people neglect to take the necessary precautions to protect their personal and financial records, and this makes them an easier target.

This kind of theft refers to fraud that involves pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or obtain other benefits. As a result, the victim ends up being held accountable for the perpetrator’s actions. There are various types of these crimes including business cases where one uses another's business name to obtain credit, criminal instances where one poses as another when detained for a crime, identity cloning where one uses another's information to assume his or her identity in daily life, and financial theft where an individual uses another's identity to obtain goods and services.

To avoid falling victim to any one of these types of identity theft, there are a few steps that you can take. Your mail contains account numbers and other personal information, so you should keep your mail safe. Make sure you collect your mail as soon as possible, or if you are away, ask the post office to hold it for you. Ensure that your mailbox is secure, so that only you can access it, or you may want to consider a PO Box for added security.

It is better to memorise your passwords and PIN numbers, instead of leaving them in your wallet or on your desk where someone else could find them. Shred or lock up all documents that contain your personal information. This includes bank statements, medical bills, credit card statements, as well as receipts from the bank or store. Credit cards are an easy target for fraudsters, with employees of stores and restaurants making copies of cards while they are away form their owners. When you are paying for something by card, never let the card out of your sight. If you have difficulty keeping track then opt to pay with cash instead.

A mistake many people make is giving out their details over the phone or over the Internet. This is a tempting act as it is just more convenient in saving you time and money. Unfortunately these platforms are not as safe as we would like to believe. If you are going to divulge your details, make sure that the business is legitimate. This may take a bit of your time but it may end up saving your hard-earned money in the future.

It is a sad reality that we have to watch every move we make for fear of falling victim to identity theft, but it is a worthwhile investment to spend a bit of extra energy guarding your personal information.

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