Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

In this modern time of electronic transactions and widespread data sharing, every consumer should take precautions to protect his or her private identifying information. In the wrong hands, your important personal information can be used fraudulently and to your detriment. Identity theft can cause financial and personal loss. If you suspect you have been the victim of identity fraud, an attorney from Thomas R. Breeden, P.C. in Manassas, VA, can give you advice about what steps you should take and what legal remedies might be available to you.

Protect Your Valuable Information

Certain personal information is particularly valuable when it comes to fraud. Important private data that is essential to keep private includes:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Drivers' license numbers
  • Passport numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Account numbers
  • Passwords
  • PIN numbers
  • Taxpayer ID numbers
  • Employer ID numbers

Protect Yourself at Home

  • Keep important documents in a locked and secure place. Most identity theft is committed by people personally known by the victim, including relatives; friends; neighbors; and household employees, contractors and service providers.
  • Before discarding documents containing personal information, shred them. "Dumpster divers" are notorious for confiscating personal data from curbside trash bins and recycling containers.
  • Make your mailbox as secure as possible and avoid leaving incoming or outgoing mail in an insecure box. Make other arrangements for receiving new blank checks than through the mail.

Protect Yourself in Public

  • Shield your transactions at ATMs. "Shoulder surfers" will try to obtain password, PIN and account information by watching ATM users.
  • Keep track of your purse or wallet. Stolen purses and wallets are still the biggest source of personal data for thieves.
  • Keep the front of your credit card private and covered as much as possible. Identity thieves can secretly take a picture of the name, number and expiration date.
  • Try not to verbally recite any important information during a public transaction that could be overheard.

Protect Yourself on the Internet

  • Only conduct Internet business with reputable companies through secure websites.
  • Never respond to "phishing" emails that request personal data or ask you to confirm it. Delete these emails. Identity thieves commonly send emails created to look like the correspondence from reputable companies or agencies by using their logos and slogans.
  • Do not open attachments or use links in emails from unknown or questionable sources. Doing so could unknowingly install "spyware" programs that mine your personal information from your computer.

Protect Yourself on the Telephone

Telephone phishing occurs too. Never give out or confirm account or other personal information unless you are absolutely certain you are speaking with the reputable merchant or entity with which the caller claims to be.

Conclusion

There are new schemes for stealing your identity invented all the time. Try to stay one step ahead of the identity thieves. For more tips, consult the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. A lawyer experienced in consumer protection law at Thomas R. Breeden, P.C. in Manassas, VA, can also advise you about avoiding identity theft.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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