The threat of identity theft has grown proportionately not only in the United States but all over the world. The ease in which it can be done is staggering and with the spread of the internet, everyone is at risk. The reason that these thieves have such a high success rate is that people are unaware of how personal information can be stolen or used illicitly or they do not believe that it could happen to them. A popular misconception is that only the wealthy are targeted in these scams. That is untrue; anyone, anywhere can be a target.
Online or Offline
While the method of online identity theft is growing popular as a means there are many other methods that are still used. The average person is just as likely to have their information stolen by eating at a restaurant or buying something at a grocery store as they are by shopping online. It is not always the department or grocery stores’ fault, while most are protected from invasion of their systems they are still vulnerable and cunning thieves can obtain thousands of people’s information through this method.
Even bank machines have been suspect with thieves installing false card readers onto ATMs. Protect your pin and keep an eye out for anyone who may be loitering around you as you make a purchase. Vigilance will keep thieves wary of you and trying to steal your information.
Identity theft protection is a need offline as much as it is online. Thousand to hundreds of thousands of letters are delivered by the postal office every day. They come in the form of free offers or pre-approved credit lines. You fill out your information and mail it back to the sender since it looks legitimate and it perhaps contains a free offer of some kind.
Be wary of unsolicited mail that asks for too much personal information such as birth dates, social insurance numbers or banking information. The easiest way is to throw out any mail online or offline that you have not signed up for or applied for.
An additional protective step is to shred any mail containing any personal information no matter how trivial it may appear. Regularly check your banking balances and credit card statements to make sure no one else is using your finances. Keep important documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses and other personal documentation stored in a secure, secret location.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, offline or online. Protecting yourself is necessary and the steps you take will help lessen the odds that it will happen to you.