In today’s world of internet, information accessibility is just a matter of mouse clicks and if someone possesses technical bent of mind he can even spy on Mr. Obama. So if someone so powerful like Obama is at risk, who is going to save common people like us? Social networking, chats and emails have given birth to a very different kind of crime called Identity Theft, which was so hard to emulate in times when internet technology was not available to common man. This is one of the prime reason why you always have to prove that you are real you by answering to same silly repetitive questions whenever you contact the customer service of your bank.
Financial institutions are well aware of the situation hence they take measures from their side to keep you safe. Let’s try to figure out what is this new buzzword ‘Identity theft’ and how you can keep yourself safe.
What is Identity Theft?
It’s a crime in which the wrong guy obtains key pieces of your personal information, such as your Pan Card Number, Driver's License details, and Passport details in order to pose as you. The information can be used to obtain loan, goods, and other services using the victim’s name.
How Identity Theft works?
No one is immune to identity theft, but if you understand how identity thieves operate you can stay one step ahead of them. Mind you, identity thieves might not require complete set of data at one go. They are capable of reverse engineering and they can gather all the information once they get hold of only one piece of your personal data like Passport Number or Pan Card details. So it’s very necessary to safeguard every piece of information with equal importance. Sometimes data will be stolen from you directly and sometimes they might hack a database to gather your information.
How to keep yourself safe?
There are few basic things which you should keep in mind to outsmart the bad guy. Let’s check them out one by one:
Don’t talk to your customer care representative in public place
When you talk to the customer care they validate your data by asking your personal details. If you are revealing all this information on phone in public place the wrong guy may overhear you. He can easily get to know your credit or debit card number, your Date of Birth and even your mother’s maiden name. Just imagine how easily he can get your billing address changed once you disconnect the call.
Don’t publish personal details on Social Networking sites
Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the best places where from your data can be easily stolen. It’s advisable to keep you DOB, phone number and other personal details, which are nonfinancial in nature, hidden on web.
Be careful about snail mail and emails
It’s very easy to steal snail mail having your credit card or debit card. Whenever you apply for a new credit card or your bank is sending a renewed one, keep track of the snail mail until you receive it in integrity. If there is unnecessary delay or envelop is tampered then inform your bank and get a clarification regarding the same. Once dispatched you should receive the mail within 3 days in any scenario. You need to be careful regarding sending data via your emails too. At times it happens that you send an email having scanned copy of passport to a bank representative just because you do not want to go to the photocopy shop to get it copied. This small amount of laziness can punish you financially in future.
Cross check your account statements regularly
It’s advisable to keep an eye on your bank statements and credit card statements. The wrong guy might be smart and he doesn’t want to kill the hen at one go. Rather he wants to enjoy the eggs in long run. You might be getting billed for small unnoticeable amounts every month or some small amount might be getting transferred to an unknown receiver every now and then from your account.
Be careful when you handover your credit or debit card for swiping
It’s a very well know way of stealing your card information now a days. You should be suspicious whenever there is unnecessary delay in getting your card back at any restaurant or shopping mall. Always insist on getting it swiped in front of you. Similarly, you should be cautious while using your card at ATM machine as it might be rigged. Check for any unnecessary installation or suspicious device before inserting your card in the machine. There might be a cloning devise or card scanner installed to steal the data.
Try to avoid paper based communication
Ask your bank to send you electronic statements rather than paper statements. Almost all the banks are providing this facility to their customers now a day. In this way you are sure that you are getting information first hand. Snail mails are easy to track and steal as compared to e mails. There is no issue of dumping your electronic statement after two or three months which is always the case with paper mails.
Never think that you are safe from Identity Theft. In today’s world the one who is vigilant and keeps his eyes open can only be safe. There is no point in regretting in future if you already know few simple steps can save your financial future but you don’t apply them. It will definitely pay to be active and cautious.