Identity theft existed well before the Internet became established, but the ease with which information can be harvested from the World Wide Web has seen the medium used more in those types of crime. However, it is still traditional methods that account for most identity theft crimes, such as stolen or lost purses or wallets.
In addition to identity theft there is also the phenomenon known as identity fraud; however, there is a subtle difference. The latter involves using stolen or misappropriated documents to obtain goods or services by deception, whereas identity theft involves assuming the identity of another person without their consent, and once established as the victim then obtaining goods and services in that person’s name.
Another popular way for someone committing fraud to pass themselves off as someone else is to produce documents containing the victim’s name and address, such as domestic bills, bank statements and other correspondence. Regardless of how the terms are coined there is very little difference when it comes to the impact it has on the victim. In extreme cases it can take years to recover from having your credit record trashed by identity fraud, but at the very least having your identity compromised is distressing and extremely inconvenient.
There are plenty of actions that you can take to maximise the chances that you will never become a victim of identity theft or fraud. If you do unwittingly become a victim having access to identity fraud assistance could save you an awful lot of grief.
But, prevention is better than cure. First, buy a shredder. Avoid falling victim to the sort of scam where your sensitive documents – such as bank statements and utility bills – are stolen from your rubbish and used by the thief or other third party to impersonate you. In fact, do all that you can to ensure they are destroyed by shredding, before they are thrown away.
Secondly, make sure that when you are out and about you take good care of your handbag or wallet. Never leave it unattended, as this can only lead to the potential of it being stolen and your driving Lastly, make sure that you are aware of the latest Internet phishing scams and never give out your banking or other information to people you do not know. Never share any passwords for online banking and try to avoid logging on to such services in public areas such as libraries and Internet cafes, as you have no idea about the security of the devices that you will be using.
If you follow such basic tips then you can significantly prevent the easy routes available to steal your identity.