Why Wait To Be The Victim Of Identity Thieves?

by : Bradlley Mckoy

Identity theft is not limited to credit card fraud. This nasty cyber crime can steal your Social Security Number, your name, and even your retirement claims. Billions of Americans and Britons have been victimized by cyber thieves who prey on the unwary. So don't wait to wake up to a pile of credit card purchases you did not make or to the horrors of a cleaned-out bank account. Do something now.

What is Identity Theft?

For every positive innovation, there's always a sinister checkmate. If the Internet has made lives easier and convenient, it has also spawned a new breed of miscreants - the identity thieves and the hackers who bilk billions of dollars from the hundreds of thousands of people using the Internet for their online transactions.

The government is not even spared. Sensitive emails and information vanish without trace, putting at risk the credibility of government organizations to manage massive information.

Identity theft or identity fraud is a crime. The criminal uses your name, credit card, or Social Security number for his economic gain. All your money in the bank will be skimmed off by fraudsters who chance on your personal financial information. What if the money is all your life's savings? This would be a tragedy indeed. Worse, the hackers can use your credit card to access child pornography websites. You can be charged and jailed for something somebody else did. The black hacker can destroy your life and reputation in minutes.

Fortunately, identity theft is now considered a federal crime and can draw stiff penalties. The move to make it a federal crime in 1998 provides victims the recourse for restitution

What to Do

Do you have several bank accounts? Are you paying for purchases online using your credit card? Are you using telephone calling cards? To counter identity theft before you amass mountains of credit or find out that you have no more money in the bank, these useful tips can help you guard against cyber predators.

Be vigilant and regularly monitor your bank statements and accounts every month. Review your credit card report and if it happens that you catch on to some suspicious purchases, report this immediately to the credit card company before more damage can be done.

Check your cyber banking accounts regularly and change your password frequently. For your passwords, do not use a word in the dictionary. Instead used words and numbers at random, and don't give your password to anybody. You are in a secured page when you see the https:// prefix rather than the usual http://.

Watch out for fraudulent mails asking for your personal information. If the mails purports itself to come from a legitimate source, call the office and make inquiries, but never divulge information over the phone. Hackers have a way with the telephone network too.

Remember that banks never ask for information via emails, so be wary of any emails or telephone calls asking for your information, no matter how realistic these appear or sound. In addition, don't throw your bank account information, bank withdrawal slips, or pre-approved credit card applications into your trash. Cunning fraudsters sweep the dumpsters looking for these slips. Once they find one, they'll go on a credit card binge.

Read up on the laws on identity theft and ways to protect yourself. Once you're snared, the damage is done. It is not easy to undo the damage of identity theft. It may even take years before you can restore your reputation and your sanity. So why wait until identity thieves take over your life?