Professional and government agencies are busy trying to solve the problem of identity theft in society. The solutions don’t come easy however, because the criminals are changing tactics all of the time. The only thing that you, as a member of the public, can do to help solve this problem is to make sure you are not a victim.
Step 1: Get a credit report.
The first thing you should do when trying to prevent identity theft is to get a credit report and make sure you haven’t already been a victim. Often people don’t know that their identities have been stolen until they try to get a loan and find out their credit is shot. Get a credit report and make sure that you can identify all of the items on that report. If you find unauthorized items, your identity has already been used and you should go to step 5.
Step 2: Shred your documents.
The first step to solving the problem of identity theft is to not put your personal information into the garbage can where thieves can find it. Use a shredder to destroy personal documents so that your account numbers and other identifying information is not available if some creep goes riffling through your trash.
Step 3: Get anti-spyware on your computer.
One of the most popular ways for high tech criminals to access your personal information is with spyware. Spyware are downloadable computer programs that report the information that you type onto your computer back to the maker of the program. This is a terrible breach of privacy but fortunately, it has an easy fix. There are anti-spyware programs available online and at computer software stores that block spyware from downloading and remove programs that are already on your computer. What you should know about anti-spyware programs is that the free programs do a relatively poor job of blocking spyware. If you really want to be protected, purchase a commercial program.
Step 4: Be careful with email. You have to be extremely careful about the emails that you open. A good rule to follow is to never open an email if you don’t know the person who sent it, no matter what the subject line says. Identity thieves have all sorts of clever scams developed to trick you into opening their emails and then either downloading their programs (via attachments) or entering in your account numbers or your passwords. To avoid this, never ever open an attachment if you don’t know what it is, even if you think it is from somebody you trust. The other thing to do is to delete questionable email as soon as you see them in your inbox.
Step 5: If your identity is stolen, make a report.
The sooner you report your identity fraud, the less money you will end up losing. Make a report to a credit reporting company as soon as you find out that someone has been using your identity to get credit. There are three credit reporting agencies that you can access through the web: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Once you have contacted one of these companies they will place a fraud alert on your file and you will be contacted anytime someone tries to use credit in your name.
Step 6: Report the theft to the police.
Call the police in your area and make a report. Once you have this report, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission who will use your police report to help fight the identity theft on a national level.