Are You a Target for Identity Fraud?

If you find yourself practicing some of the following habits, you might be a prime target for identity fraud. A little caution goes a long way in protecting yourself from becoming victimized by identity thieves and fraudsters.

Looks too good to be true? Then it probably is.

In a society full of contests (“Win a free kitchen makeover!”), lotteries (“Mega Millions!”), sweepstakes (“Sign-up and win today!”), and giveaways (“Apply today and receive a free t-shirt!”), it is easy to be lulled into providing personal information for a chance to win. Amidst all the legitimate contests and giveaways lurks those designed to extract private information that may be used to collect data including marketing call lists, bait-and-switch contracts, and yes . . . identity fraud. Being paranoid and extra-cautious is not a bad thing when evaluating what you wish to participate in, and what it takes to do so. Remember, once you complete that application, your data is in the hands of outside parties. Take a close look at that questionnaire, read the small print, and try to make sure it is a legitimate source before giving someone the opportunity to exploit you. Giving up your financial information for freebies may cost you a lot more than you bargained for!

Need to talk about finances? Avoid public places.

Mobile phones are powerful devices. It is so easy to make that call anytime, anywhere, to talk when the moment hits. So convenient! So fast! So easily overheard! Until a cone-of-silence becomes a reality, make sure you are in a private place when discussing private information including bank account, social security, and driver’s license numbers, and more. Remember, fraudulent minds want to know when mining for data, and overhearing a phone call can present that opportunity. Be mindful of your surroundings, and seek a private place to make that important phone call. If it can wait, let it!

In addition to a private place to chat, the following simple steps can help protect you when using mobile devices.

  • Consider locking your device with a password to prevent unauthorized access to your device.
  • Don’t store sensitive account or personal information on your device.
  • Take advantage of security settings and use them accordingly.
  • If you have a financial or banking app, be sure to take advantage of the security features available to you, to protect yourself against internet fraud.

Looking for a job? Keep private information where it belongs.

Job seekers are looking for more inventive and appealing ways to market themselves to possible employers. It may be tempting to include personal and financial information on your resume if it makes you stand out. Posting a resume on a public forum may reveal too much about you to identity fraudsters. Including information such as your Social Security number, birth date, place of birth, or other financial information may make you a target for identity thieves, or give criminals enough information to access your bank account. While you want to make every effort to get that interview, be aware of thieves that prey upon job seekers by using email messages to request more information. For example, verify the source of any email request stating they need your Social Security number to perform a background check prior to an interview.

Referenced articles:

1. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/5-ways-to-expose-yourself-to-identity-theft-1.aspx, www.bankrate.com

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