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Stephen Eastwood
November 2016.
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How can I protect myself from identity theft?
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It’s very difficult to fully protect yourself. The short answer is never to go online!

Obviously there’s all the advice given about changing your passwords, not using the same one for every site and so on, but I think a lot of the websites have a responsibility as well. For example, I have an email account that by default leaves me logged in, which is anything but secure, and really frustrating. Mobile phones also leave us open to fraud, as does the increased use of contactless payments. I don’t think people who create the tech make it very easy for us to stay secure.

"Technology has a huge influence on crime in general."

This brings us onto issue of ID cards. A lot of people say that if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you shouldn’t be worried about them, but it’s yet more data stored somewhere that could be accessed for criminal use. Also, with NHS records going online, people’s medical information becomes vulnerable to being hacked. We give up so much information for the sake of convenience, but if it goes wrong then we could be in all sorts of trouble.

Is the danger of identity theft exaggerated? Far from it! We’re probably underestimating the scale of it if anything. There must be tens of thousands of individuals out there who don’t even know that other people have opened credit cards in their name.

A lot of corporations are reluctant to report such issues due to fear of reputational damage. Sometimes banks and websites aren’t as secure as they could be, but they don’t want to report fraudulent activity either, as they want to be seen as keeping our money and data secure.

Essentially, every technological development changes crime. Back when I was a student, our house was full of TVs, computers, CDs… all of which were worth something if they were stolen. Today, TVs are larger and harder to steal, music is digital, and our computer devices are smaller and tend to be kept about our person – so that kind of physical theft has reduced. Shops are also holding less money onsite, so there’s less incentive to rob them. Technology has a huge influence on crime in general.

Shielding your private information with no risk of a breakdown may be impossible these days. But there are some simple ways to protect you from becoming a victim of Identity Theft.

1. Destroy private records and statements

Tear up – or, if you prefer, shred – credit cards statements, solicitations, and other documents that contain private financial information.

2. Secure your mail

Empty you mailbox quickly, lock it or get a P.O. box so criminals don’t have a chance to snatch credit card pitches. Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee’s name erased with solvents. Mail them from the post office or another secure location.

3. Safeguard your Social Security number

Never carry your card with you, or any other card that may have your number, like a health insurance card. Don’t put your number on your checks. It’s the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts.

4. Don’t leave a paper trail.

Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.

5. Never let your credit card out of your sight

Worried about credit card skimming? Always keep an eye on your card or, when that’s not possible, pay with cash.

6. Know who you’re dealing with

Whenever anyone contacts you asking for private identity or financial information, make no response other than to find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.

7. Take your name off marketers’ hit lists

In addition to the national Do-Not-Call registry (1-888-382-1222), you can also cut down on junk mail and opt out of credit card solicitations.

8. Be more defensive with personal information

Ask salespeople and other if information such as Social Security or driver’s license number is absolutely necessary. Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number about their privacy policy and that you do not want your information given to anyone else.

9. Use encryption tool

The use of encryption tool will helps you to stay anonymous while using your account online on the internet. The best encryption tool works best to keep you secure and anonymous is VPN, it encrpyts your online history and data. If you are not familiar with VPNs, you can get the fastest Paid VPN Trial from here.

10. Review your credit cards statements carefully

Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. If you don’t need or use department-store or bank-issued credit cards, consider closing the accounts.