10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Identity Theft
Identity theft has become one of the biggest concerns for Americans. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood subjects among consumers. We are always looking for ways to protect ourselves from fraud. Credit card fraud or identity theft can turn your life upside down, especially if you have to spend time with law enforcement or incur legal charges. It’s always best to prevent identity theft instead of trying to fix problems once they start. There are plenty of ways that you can make yourself safer as a consumer. If you follow some of the steps below, you are much less likely to become a victim of identity theft.
Fake Wi-Fi Hotspots
While public Wi-Fi hotspots are extremely convenient, they can also be very dangerous. Make sure you avoid generic Wi-Fi hotspots names, such as “Hotel Wi-Fi” or “Airport Wi-Fi.” Once you log into a fake Wi-Fi hotspot, thieves can gain access to everything in your phone, tablet or computer. That means usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and any other important data that you’ve used online. You’ll want to be cautious about which public hotspots you use, and what information you disclose online in public areas.
Medical Identity Theft
Medical identity theft is an increasing threat. The medical field is growing every year, and more individuals are getting treatment, prescriptions and using health insurance. But when you enter your name and social security number online for these medical services, you can be putting yourself at risk. Make sure you only give critical personal information at medical centers, and do so in person. You’ll also want to check with your health insurance company on a regular basis to ensure that all charges are legitimate.
Are you receiving less mail then you used to? Are you getting calls and emails about products you’ve never ordered? You might be the victim of a mail redirect scheme. Mail redirect schemes occur when a thief uses your personal information to request an address change from the Post Office. The thieves change your mail to an address of their choosing, where they can collect your personal information and open up new accounts. Make sure you shred personal information and stop junk mail and other unwanted solicitations.
Search Engine Manipulation
Search engine manipulation, sometimes called search engine poisoning, refers to the act of thieves manipulating search engine results so that fake websites looking for your information show up in a higher position in the listings. Maybe you Google your bank’s name, and click on a phony website that shows up higher than usual. That phony website looks like the real thing, except it collects all of your entered personal information and feeds it to identity thieves.
Military men and women are constantly entering their personal information in different places, which makes them prime targets for scams. Identity thieves can pretend to be offering a new program for military members, only for those entering their information to find out that the entire thing was a scam. Military members should constantly check the validity of different military programs to make sure that their information is safe.
Theft Via Computer Games
Online games where individuals open accounts virtually is a new way for thieves to steal your personal information. Online thieves can issue phishing attacks against online games and payment systems in order to obtain critical information. Sometimes, thieves send fake emails in hopes of gamers inputting their personal data. Only log in from a secure website and be wary of emails that ask you for your information.
If someone sends you an unsolicited email asking you for personal information, you should immediately report it as spam. Financial service companies never send unsolicited emails asking for your personal or financial information. Make sure you only give out your financial information in conversations that you initiated.
Credit Cards Have Stronger Fraud Protection Than Debit Cards
Know that credit card protections offered are stronger than those offered by debit cards. Credit cards, due to federal law, restrict the amount you are liable for to $50. Depending on when you report the debit card theft, you can be liable for $50 up to the full amount.
Your Credit Card Number Can Get Stolen Without You Explicitly Revealing It
Even if just part of your personal information is stolen, thieves can use it to find the rest of your information. Make sure that you shred all important documents that you receive in the mail, especially financial statements.
Check Your Online Statements On A Regular Basis
Although financial statements are nice to get in the mail, they also leave you open to potential identity theft attempts. It’s better to go paperless, and then check your statements online. That keeps you more up to date on a regular basis, and it also prevents identity thieves from being able to get physical access to your information. If you are truly ready to prevent identity theft, then you should stop getting paper statements in the mail which contain your critical personal information.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways identity thieves can attempt to steal your personal information and credit card number. But if you avoid risky behavior, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and effort. It can be extremely difficult to go through the law enforcement and legal process after your identity has been stolen, and it can be frustrating not knowing if your identity is still compromised. By avoiding some of these traps, you will protect yourself and lessen the risk of your critical information falling into the wrong hands.