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How To Be Safe From Identity Theft

Aug 17, 2007
The advancements in technology have made possible the proliferation of crimes that used to be depicted in the movies only and which were very far from reality. However, there are existing crimes that are now spreading like wildfire because of the lack of security in using the Internet,

One such crime closely related to Internet use but which can also be committed in other ways is identity theft. Identity theft basically operates the same that the ordinary crime of theft does. The difference is that in identity theft, what is stolen is the identity of a person.

Identity is considered a crime because it is the act of assuming or using the identity of another person without his consent. Identity theft usually causes injury to the person whose identity has been stolen. It is usually committed for financial gain, blackmail or even espionage.

This crime has grown so widespread that the United States Congress has enacted the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act to punish those found suing another person' identity without his consent. The criminal gets an additional two years in jail if he uses the stolen identity to perpetuate another crime. Another five years is added to the jail term if the crime is used to promote terrorism.

So how is identity theft done? Identity thieves are one of the most creative people in this planet and they will do anything to get information about the people whose identity they are planning to steal. This includes rummaging through the target victim's garbage to sift important information about the person's identity which they can use in perpetuating the crime.

Some identity thieves use computers and sophisticated programs like spyware to get financial information about their target victims. Hacking another person's computer is a method often used by identity thieves to commit the crime.

The proliferation of Identity theft can be blamed on the ease with which financial transactions can now be made. Credit card companies readily approve applications without even physically dealing with the applicants. These companies approve the applications based on documents that the applicants send by snail mail or online and the companies send the approved cards by mail.

Revealing financial information through the telephone can also be a magnet for identity thieves. These criminals have access to high technology gadgets and they can eavesdrop on telephone conversations. Sending information through the Bluetooth technology can also be easily intercepted by identity thieves.

Everyone is in danger and any person's identity can be stolen. Thus, a person should be careful in revealing financial information especially if such information is being asked for no reason at all.

To avoid being victimized by identity thieves, a person should consider the following safety measures:

1. Always be careful in sending and receiving financial information through snail mail because mails can easily be intercepted by thieves.

2. Never throw important financial and other information in the garbage without shredding them first. Identity thieves can masquerade as garbage collectors and sift through a mountain of financial information about the prospective victim.

3. Never reveal financial information over the phone. Anybody can call someone on the telephone and pretend to be a bank officer. When such information has to be given to any office, it is better to visit the office and personally hand in the information to the right person.

4. Always inspect bank transactions and look for any irregular payments or withdrawals.

5. In the same manner, always check credit card bills and cross check with purchases and other credits to make sure that the charges are correct and not made by another person.

When it comes to identity theft, no one is really safe and the best thing to do is to be careful and wary of revealing any financial information. It is best to incur a little delay by verifying the identities of people asking for financial information rather than to suffer financial distress later on.

Remember that identity thieves are very creative and they can get any information they want. They can even be getting a person's financial information this very moment while the target is using his computer. With all the convenience of technology, any person can be a victim of identity theft.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://identitytheft.pagechic.com where you can learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft .
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