Stop Identity Thieves in Their Tracks: Avoid Today’s Fastest Rising Crime

Buying a home or car, getting a loan to advance your education, taking out a credit line for a new baby or much-needed vacation — these should be the happiest times of your life.

Yet every two seconds, someone in the United States learns their dreams are all on hold because their identity has been stolen and their credit ruined.

How do these thieves get your sensitive information, and how can you stop them?

dumpster divingTake Precautions With Your Trash

Dumpster diving” doesn’t just occur in business parking lots. Identity thieves have multiple opportunities to get their greedy hands on your trash.

Your trash cans often contain a plethora of sensitive information that can be used to steal your identity.

Medical bills, notices from the IRS, bank statements, credit card statements and receipts, and especially pre-approved credit card notices are all fodder for identity thieves.

Identity thieves can get these documents from your yard, when it’s on the garbage truck, or even after it is dumped into a landfill.

Instead of walking from the mailbox to the garbage can to toss the junk mail, bring it in and shred it.

Also, shred documents you throw away when filing your taxes, paying bills, or cleaning out old files.

prevent shoulder surfing Watch Out When Using Debit, Credit, and ATM Cards

There are two ways thieves can steal your information when you use a credit, debit, or ATM card.

First, they can simply peek over your shoulder as you enter your security code.

Unfortunately, most people use the same code for all their accounts, so once thieves gain access to one account they can get it all.atm skimming

The second way is by skimming. A card skimmer is a device that fits into card scanners, such as those at ATM machines or pay-at-the-pump gas stations.

The transaction appears to go as planned (you get your money or pay for your gas), but the skimmer steals your card number, PIN number, etc., and the identity thief gets it.

Learn to spot potential card skimmers, always cover your hand when entering a PIN, and use cash when you can instead of depending on plastic.

protect your mail

Keep Tabs on Your Mail

Thieves can get access to your mail before it gets into your home. Mail thieves target the same items as dumpster divers.

Plus, mail thieves are known for stealing checks and washing them.

Check washing is a chemical process that removes the ink, so the identity thief can enter their own payment information, including the amount of the check.

It can be weeks, months, or years before this type of theft is discovered.

secure smart phones Secure Your Mobile Devices

Your mobile devices are portable blueprints of your entire life.

Most people use these to store everything from passwords to family photos to financial documents.

In other words: your mobile devices are a potential busload of goodies for an identity thief.

Use strong passwords, not the names of your pets or your birthday.

Never elect to auto-save passwords for your apps, such as your bank app or credit card company app.

use caution when on internet Use Caution When Visiting Websites

Another trick identity thieves use is to create mock websites that look like the websites you use and trust, such as PayPal, Amazon, and even Google.

Never follow a link from an email to a website to enter sensitive information. Bookmark the sites you know are legitimate, and navigate to them from your bookmarks.

If you receive emails from websites such as these, visit the website directly, not from the email link.

When you visit a trusted website where you need to enter information, check the URL to make sure it’s where you intended to be.

Look for the security icon at the top of your browser.

Invest in Identity Theft Protection

Of course, you can do all of these things faithfully and still fall victim to identity thieves.

You can’t control what goes on at your bank, credit card company, the vendors where you shop, or the folks at your doctor’s office.

The best protection for the information outside your direct control is identity theft insurance.

Instead of looking for protection that only offers credit monitoring, look for a policy that provides help if your identity is stolen.

This process is time-consuming and frustrating if you have to go it alone. Additionally, find a company that will reimburse you for any losses you incur as a result of identity theft.

Once you have taken reasonable precautions, try to relax.

Stay smart and don’t let the small possibility of this crime rob you from enjoying your life.

8 thoughts on “Stop Identity Thieves in Their Tracks: Avoid Today’s Fastest Rising Crime

  1. Kelly Sheldrick says:

    You never know you’ve been targeted until it’s too late! I think most people just think, ‘oh, it won’t happen to me’ or ‘identify thief’ is rare, and never really happens.’ Sadly, I think a lot of people don’t start taking precautions until something happens to them, or someone they know. Your tips are great – and hopefully gets the message across to those people that are still a little reluctant to believe the high risk, and accept that they are a possible target. You pointed out that some thieves create mock sites, to get people’s information – that scares me a fair bit. I always check that I’m entering a secure sites. Thanks for sharing!

  2. No Identity Theft says:

    You basically took the words right out of my mouth Kelly. People always think, “oh, it will never happen to me?” Then it happens and then they freak out about what they have to do to repair all the damage that had been caused. The average person spends 300 hours trying to fix the damage that had been caused by an identity thief. That includes all the phone calls, emails, and faxes that are needed to resolve the situation. By having an identity theft protection company behind you, they do all the leg work for you so you don’t have to waste your time trying to get your identity back to where it was before the intrusion.

  3. Jayson Stonewaller says:

    All of these things can lead you down a path that could take years to get back to normal. I am glad that I live in an area where the garbage is secured since that seems to be the path thieves take sometimes. I also secure my mobile device with a two-tier system to ensure nobody is getting any information from it. As far as the identity theft protection or insurance, I never thought I would need it until my back called one time and questioned a purchase not made by me. I call that a second chance and now I am not going to ever skip over the ID theft insurance and protection.

  4. Cheska J says:

    This is still a very common problem today, it makes me sad to know that a lot of people result to this kind of practice, fooling and stealing people who earned money the honest way.. My friend has been a victim to skimming and she lost a good amount of money from this and was not able recover any of it. We both now have been looking into the best plans for identity theft insurance.. I tell you guys, don’t waste your time and look for a good insurance provider if you want to keep yourself safe.

  5. No Identity Theft says:

    Hi Cheska, Skimming is a real problem that is affecting us. It can be anyone in the retail world that can takes advantage of you. That is why you should never take your eyes of your card when you hand the merchant your card. I get a little weary when giving my card to servers at restaurants because they leave for a while and run the card away from my line of sight. I try to bring cash to restaurants now. Servers tend to like cash tips anyways. Win win in my book.

  6. No Identity Theft says:

    It’s always better to be overprotected than not having enough. It’s less than $1 dollar a day to get the peace of mind knowing you don’t have to worry about your identity getting compromised. I think it’s well worth the small investment. Always better to be safe than sorry.

  7. Pam says:

    I used to think my mom was nuts for shredding everything and making sure there was as little personal info out there as possible but now that it’s become such common place to go through trash and watch everything everyone does, I get it. I’ve even bought an RFID wallet.

  8. Shelly Thompson says:

    Pam!!!! Me, too. I used to look at my grandmother *like* “It is not that serious. I still remember being a little girl on my way to the kitchen to throw out a stack of papers and her hollering, “Rip those papers up.” She ripped everything until one mother’s day my uncles got her a shredder. She has been sleeping better ever since.

    As an adult, I do have a shredder. It is something I grew up seeing and finally it registered to me. I do not feel comfortable putting my personal information in the garbage. Another part of the reason why it is imperative that I shred my personal information before trashing it is because I know someone who had a credit cards put in their name. To this day, and it has been about 2 years, she always has to submit extra paperwork to prove that she was a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft.

    If back in the day when technology wasn’t advanced at all and your mom and my grandmother still made sure to protect their information, there is no way on this earth I am not going to have an additional layer of protection in the form of an identity theft service, I am going to make sure to have healthy practices like the practices mentioned above.

    Identity theft will be on the rise as long as people continue to not take it seriously. As the post mentioned with only a social security number, a birthday, a laptop, and wifi (no matter where the wifi is, it could be on a beach) someone could do things to you that you will be paying for for a decent amount of time. For some reason, though, either most people do not think it is something that could happen to them or it isn’t even something they know they should protect their self against. Both scenarios have the potential to be dangerous for your financial future and not having the best practices (which are the 7 practices outlined in this post) can potentially cost you more in the long run.

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