Identity Theft Prevention: Awareness and Action

In a world that relies on the internet to do almost everything, it is no wonder that criminals rely on it as well. Identity theft, the literal theft of the identity of someone else, used to be a tough act to succeed in. Thieves had to rely on stumbling across pertinent information in dumpsters, or by stealing credit card receipts or other pieces of data. Of course, this meant the theft of only one piece of the puzzle-thanks to the internet, a person's entire life history can be stolen with the click of a button.

Identity theft prevention can be achieved in a few small steps. While many people do protect themselves against identity theft, many do not, and even those who take precautions may sometimes end up having their information stolen. However, actual identity theft can still be prevented even when important information is intercepted-with identity theft prevention, individuals can step in before it is too late and save their identities.

Staying Alert and Staying Safe

Just as individuals can purchase paper shredders to ensure that any documents they throw out cannot be read, people can also purchase virtual protections against identity theft. However, sometimes all the caution in the world is not enough, and information is still stolen. If individuals remain alert, however, and know the correct course of action to take when information is stolen, identity theft prevention is still possible.

There are four main steps people should take when they know they have become a victim. First, a fraud alert should be placed on all credit reports, and individuals should keep a close eye on all credit card reports. If more people paid attention to their credit card activity, they would be able to notice fraudulent charges in the beginning, before the problem could get out of hand.

This identity theft prevention step is easy, but it is also important-in fact, all individuals should make this a habit, even if they have not been victims. On the same note, once fraud has been noticed, those credit cards should be canceled and other related accounts closed. It can be done over the phone, instantaneously, and future charges will be prevented.

The final two steps of identity theft prevention are important as well. While closing accounts and changing addresses may stop the problem temporarily, in the end, the criminal needs to be stopped. By filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and with the local police, that thief will be tracked, and many times he or she will be caught. Also, for the victim, this prevents future attacks-just because the credit cards and accounts have been cancelled, that does not mean that thief cannot use those numbers to gain access to other private data, including Social Security numbers and home addresses.