Identity fraud has become so common that it is essential to protect one's self from becoming a victim. By following simple steps, you can spare yourself from financial losses, psychological and emotional problems associated with a stolen identity.
What identity theft is
What is identity theft, you might ask? It simply means that an unknown individual or individuals got hold of your personal details, took over your identity and do things on your behalf without your knowledge and consent. It manifests in many forms and ranges from simple card fraud, credit fraud, hacking personal details in computers to using stolen passports and IDs. A stolen identity can equate to huge financial losses (or ruin) and at worst, damages your credibility.
Tips to protect yourself against identity theft
Photocopy your documents For data protection, scan all your documents such as passports, motor vehicle registrations, credit and debit cards, birth certificates, health cards, insurance policies, social security and national identity cards. Keep copies in a safe place. Unless you are travelling, you might also want to hold on to a copy of your motor vehicle registration in your car. The originals have to be stored in a safe place at home. Keep codes safe Double protect your cell phones with passwords to protect stored data from getting in the wrong hands. If you are the type to rely on written codes, build in secrecy in your passwords. You don't have to write blatantly on your agenda that it is a Visa card. You may assign the names of your kids or pets as decoys instead. Report loss or theft immediately If you lost your wallet and all its contents, report the incident to the proper agencies and authorities to stop unauthorised charges and use. Take note of emergency assistance numbers. Protect the identity of the dead Even the dead can be resurrected by fraudsters for any gain or benefit. Make sure that the documents of deceased family members are stored safely. Check for unusual activity in your bank transactions Write down what you have have charged on your debit and credit cards, by using a work sheet. File a fraud report If you believe that you are a victim of fraud, contact the National Fraud Authority and other similar organisations. Purchase an identity theft protection plan If you still feel that you do not have enough protection, look into purchasing theft insurance. Compare offers and features of card protection plans in your area. These vary, but usually include annual credit insurance, protection against wallet theft, laptop protection, installing anti-spyware on your computers, ID theft recovery assistance and other related services.