With the continuous advancement and rapid development of computer and Internet technology, more and more people are doing financial and business transactions over the web. Perhaps when you compared a decade ago and today, there is a huge difference on the number of people buying and selling over the Internet.
In alignment with these recent development, there are also increasing numbers of people who are becoming a victim of identity theft and online fraud. In this regard, I would like to make some tips that I carried out to protect myself from theft and fraud perpetuating around the web today.
Identity theft is a criminal act. It is stealing the valuable financial information from a person like her bank account details, credit card number, and other personal information related to her finances and privacy. Many developed countries like US, UK, Canada and Australia have already created laws in protecting their citizens against this activity. However, other nations are still formulating laws on how to combat this crime.
Probably, you’ve heard before that “Prevention is better than cure” and it is also true with identity theft. You have the biggest responsibility in preventing yourself from becoming a victim. Here are some of the suggestions that can be useful to avoid this kind of activity.
1. Do not write your Internet banking details on a piece of paper
It is not a good idea writing your online banking user name and password on a piece of paper for the sake of easy reminder. If that paper is lost, there is a high chance that other people might get it and then use it to acquire your financial data.
Always remember your log in details. It think this is the best way to protect your Internet banking information. Do not share or disclose it to someone you don’t know.
If you have a short memory, I suggests you write your online banking log in using Google Docs so anywhere you are, you can retrieve it. I use Google Docs spreadsheet to store my user name and password for almost all of my bank, stocks and website accounts. In this way, if I forgot anything, I will just open it and the file where my user name and password is located.
2. Shred all receipts and statement of accounts before throwing in the garbage bin
Another way to prevent identity theft is to shred all papers and documents that have your bank account or credit card number. In this way, you will lessen the possibility that other people might divulge your financial information.
You don’t need to buy a paper shredder, you only have to cut the paper or receipts into small pieces so that it will be harder for other people to see your bank account number. As much as possible, you must keep all your financial documents in a safe place in your office or home.
3. Identify and avoid phishing email
Phishing email is a very popular method on getting the bank or financial information from a prospective victim. Normally, this kind of email is sent to many recipients not only you. The most distinguishing feature of a phishing email is it will require you take an immediate action because something went wrong.
Normally, it will ask you to send your bank or credit card information through email. Beware! Always remember that your bank or credit card company will NEVER ask you to send to them your account or card info via email. It is definitely a sign of phishing.
In addition to this, there is also a link that you need to click which will direct you to a website almost similar to your bank’s website, usually, the log in page of Internet banking.
4. In case of lost ATM or credit card, report it immediately to your bank or card company
A lost ATM or credit card is a potential gateway for identity theft. It can be used by criminals to apply for other identification card using your name so it is very important to report that incident to your bank or card company in order for them to deactivate your ATM or credit card immediately.
In case of credit card lost, the thief can use it to make purchases online or even in a physical store. If your credit card allows a feature of automatic sending of message whenever you uses your card, enroll it to that service so you will know the transaction every time or when someone else are using your card.
If you don’t know which number to call in reporting a lost card, you can get it from the website of your bank or credit card. There is always a customer service that can help you deal regarding lost card.
5. Always be alert when doing financial transactions over the web
I assume there are more identity theft and online fraud happening around the web than in the offline world. Since many people now are buying or selling through the Internet using credit card and bank account, it is obvious that thieves will target these group of people.
That’s why maybe you already received an email before informing you that you win a lottery even if you didn’t buy a ticket. This kind of email simply want to get your name, contact info, bank account and others.
When buying something in the Internet, I personally prefer to use PayPal when paying online. I think it is the most secure way to pay since you don’t have to write always your credit card number every time you buy. The only thing you need is log in to your account using your user name and password then pay the product you’re purchasing and it’s done.
You have also added protection because you can make a dispute or resolution to the seller whenever you’re transaction doesn’t agree with the terms and conditions or the product is defective. PayPal is the number 1 online payment system in the world and you can rely on them.
Preventing identity theft is your responsibility so you should carry out the tips mentioned above to make it happen. Always remember that ounce of prevention is better than ton of cure and it can save you a lot of money and time.
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Image by Salvatore Vuono