What is your Risk of Identity Theft?

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Identity theft is a growing problem. Despite this fact, certain strategies exist that can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

With the holiday season upon us it's important not to forget it is peak season for crime. While we are enjoying the holiday festivities, criminals are strategizing how to steal that joy, along with anything else they can get their hands on.  In fact, scammers and identity thieves seem to come up with new ideas to fleece consumers all the time while consumers tend to rely on the same strategies to protect themselves over and over again.

How vigilant are you when it comes to protecting your personal information from the bad guys? Are you content to sit and wait until identity theft happens to you or someone you know -and then react? Has your own experience with identity theft been quickly resolved by your credit card company so that you now feel secure and comfortable with the idea that you are protected? Really? Perhaps you should think again.

While it is true that a great many consumers exist, reducing your odds for having your identity taken, the number of scammers seems to grow each year, increasing your risk of having your identity stolen. Fortunately, there are more than a few strategies that exist that you can use to reduce your risk of identity theft.

The Typical Guidelines for Protecting Your Personal Identity

Of course, every consumer should follow each of the typical guidelines for protecting their personal identity. This includes not sharing your credit cards with family or friends. You never know who might have access to it once your card leaves your possession.

As far as your social security number is concerned, you should not give it away to anyone unless absolutely required. Plus, you should memorize the number rather than carrying it around with you. If you lose your wallet, it will be one less aspect to worry about.

Installing anti-virus/anti-spyware applications and keeping them up-to-date is important for anyone who conducts financial transactions online. Certain types of malware such as keyloggers are adept at stealing vital information. Removing spyware from your computer on a regular basis reduces your risk of becoming a victim to identity theft.

The Not-So-Typical Guidelines for Protecting Your Personal Identity

Since many consumers never realize just how high their risk of identity theft is until it happens to them, it is important to avoid it at all costs. Today paying for services that are designed to protect your personal information and keep it out of the hands of thieves is a growing reality for some. The services on the market today vary and each consumer considering purchasing these services should be informed and knowledgeable about what they receive for their money.

Monitoring Services

Paying for monitoring of all of your accounts is a reactive service that notifies you after a potential problem in your credit report is detected.

There are companies who offer both proactive and restorative services. One such company that I subscribe to, and endorse, is LifeLock. One of their latest additions to their line-up of proactive services includes their Identity Alert System a service that sweeps countless data sources while monitoring for new credit card applications, job applications, change-of-address requests, that may have been made using LifeLock subscribers' names. (see below video ).

Security Software

Protection from malware that can steal your information from your computer is critical. While anti-virus/anti-spyware applications are useful in removing malware from your computer, they are not perfect at doing so through no fault of their own. Malware is an evolving creature with many faces, each of which continually changes in an effort to sidestep detection. To get around this, Internet users can invest in security software designed to provide safe Web browsing even if malware has infected a computer. This type of software provides secure browsers in a stripped-down style. This type of browser blocks access to certain Windows features effectively preventing malware from accessing vital information such as log ins and passwords. 

Assessing Your Risk of Identity Theft

If you practice all or most of the guidelines for protecting your personal information, then your risk is considerably less than that of someone who follows few or none of the guidelines. The fewer precautions you take to protect your identity, the greater at risk you are.


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