Identity theft happens to many people every year. Many people are unaware that they have even had their identity stolen. However, when it does actually happen to you, it is a horrible feeling. You will most likely feel like your privacy has been invaded and as though someone has personally gone into your house and taken something.
There are different things that people can do. Someone might steal your actual credit card, they might skim just the numbers (which will be harder for you to catch on), they might open loans in your name, and they might even go as far as to completely take over and live your life.
I have heard of many scary stories of where the thief had started a whole new life with the new identity. They go to school, work, and live as though they are that person.
A couple of years ago I found out that someone had used my social security number and other information to buy themselves a house. They’ve always been on time with their payments, so I assume that is one of the reasons why I didn’t find out until recently (when I ran my credit check and thoroughly went through it) that there was a house in my name.
What to watch out for:
1. Important papers.
If you have important papers, then make sure you keep them safe. Try to stay organized and don’t keep papers everywhere. Also, buying a fire/water-proof safe is never a bad idea either.
Also, when discarding papers, make sure to shred the important ones very well. Papers that might have your social security number, credit card or bank information and other important information should be shredded.
Many thieves will go through trash cans and even if they are torn apart, they can easily put them back together. I once watched a whole television episode where a past thief went through trash and showed how he could piece back together shredded papers.
Identity thieves can also go through your mail. Try collecting your mail as soon as you can and don’t let it sit in your mailbox for too long.
2. Be careful with what you keep on you and in your wallet.
I know of some people who keep both their social security cards and pin numbers on them. Some people even keep a list with their passwords and usernames on them in their wallet. This is such a bad idea and there are so many reasons for this.
Either remember this information or keep it at home. All you have to do is have your wallet stolen or lose it and then everyone has all types of information about your life. There is also most likely no reason to have all of this information on you at all times also.
3. Watch your credit card information.
Many identity thieves are EXTREMELY crafty with ways to steal your credit card information. When paying for your meals, see where your credit card is taken. Most of the time, cashiers can just swipe it right in front of you, but if they take it into the back room or are gone for a good amount of time, it makes sense to be worried.
Also, when using your pin number, make sure no one is watching. It’s very easy for someone to just memorize or take a cell phone picture of your card number when you swipe your card, and then if you make it easy for them to see your pin number, it can be very harmful to your financial life. You’ve just given them everything they need if they see both your credit card number and your pin number.