Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes. With ID theft everyone is a potential target, even celebrities and corporations.
Just last week a band of cybercriminals were charged with running one of the most sophisticated hacking organizations the world has seen. Over the course of seven years this group was responsible for stealing 160 million credit and debit card numbers resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars stolen.
While this group of ID thieves was highly sophisticated and used a wide range of technology, it doesn’t take much to get a hold of your personal information. This includes Social Security numbers, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and your existing account numbers at your financial institutions.
Thieves will try to get this information in many ways:
- Stealing wallets or purses with everything in them
- Taking mail from your mailbox, especially bank statements and credit card statements
- Diverting your mail by using a change of address form at the Post Office
- Searching through your trash for tossed copies of statements
- Posing as a representative of your financial institution on the phone and asking about your account
To keep your information private, here are some of the steps to consider:
- Carry as few credit cards as possible and periodically check to make sure you still have them
- Avoid carrying your Social Security card and passport unless it is needed
- Never have your Social Security number on your checks
- Shred all important papers that contain financial information before disposing of them
- Dispose of credit card and ATM receipts properly
- Sign new credit cards when you receive them
- Guard your PIN (personal identification number) carefully
- Make your PIN and passwords hard for someone else to guess. Don’t use your birth date, phone number or last four digits of your Social Security number
- Keep a list of credit card and financial account numbers with phone numbers in a safe place. If you happen to lose your wallet, you can easily contact the right company to cancel your current cards
- Guard against mail theft by signing up for e-Statements
- Never give personal information over the phone unless you made the call or you know whom you are speaking with
- Review your financial and credit card statements carefully for unknown transactions. If you see one, call the institution immediately
While there are no guarantees that these, or any steps will prevent identity thieves from attacking you, the harder you make it for them to steal your identity, the less likely you are to become an identity theft victim. At Standard Bank, it’s our job to help protect you from financial loss that’s why we offer Stolen Identity Coverage to all our current customers. Click the banner below to learn more.