Nov 16, 2013 Dave King
Consumers put themselves at risk of identity theft every day. For example, whenever something is purchased online, credit card information could be stolen by a hacker and used to steal a person's identity.
To prevent this type of crime, short term lenders and other financial institutions need to work together with consumers. Banks and lenders need to implement strong ID verification procedures to ensure that applicants aren't using a false name. Additionally, it would be beneficial to provide customers with steps they can take to avoid identity theft.
- Remove Social Security cards from wallets: A person's Social Security number is their identity. If this is obtained by a criminal, it will be much easier for them to open accounts and credit lines using that person's name. Therefore, it is recommended that consumers don't carry this card around in their wallet. This may seem harmless, but if it is ever lost or stolen, people could be in big trouble. If people find themselves in a situation where they need their Social Security number, it is important to remember to remove the card from their wallet or purse when returning to home. It may also be beneficial to memorize this number.
- Shred important documents: People who still get credit card and bank statements in the mail need to be sure to dispose of these documents properly. Simply tossing them in the trash is not enough, as many identity thieves go through garbage in search of mail that has account numbers and other personal information. It would be smart to purchase a shredder, so all important documents can be destroyed before being thrown away. People who don't want to spend money on a shredder can go paperless and view statements and other important documents online.
- Shop on secured websites: With the holiday season quickly approaching, millions of Americans will be shopping online in the coming months - opening themselves up to identity theft. To avoid being a victim, it is important that consumers only shop on websites that are secure. For example, sites that have "https" in the URL are safe, while those with "http" are much more risky. Most well-known retailers will have secure sites, but people may stray to unfamiliar sites in search of an item that can't be found elsewhere. This should be avoided to reduce the risk of identity theft.
- Check credit reports: One of the easiest things people can do to prevent major identity theft scams is to regularly check their credit reports. These documents can be obtained for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus, so there is no excuse to not check them. Whenever an account is opened in someone's name, it will show up on their credit report, so this document can allow people to stop this crime before it becomes too serious.