• Monday, July 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Protecting yourself against identify fraud

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An important part of our financial lives, unfortunately, must involve protecting ourselves from loss, including identity fraud. For that reason proactive identity theft protection steps must be taken to avoid financial loss. The good news is that when it comes to identity theft, you can do a lot to protect yourself without incurring great expense.

People are aware of the basic forms of financial protection in other areas such as insurance and the likes, but even though they are generally aware of identity theft most people seem to do little to avoid losses through fraud.

As a result identity theft and identity fraud are very rampant, now in Nigeria.

Still, most people have heard about identity theft and adopted some of the primary ways to protect themselves from identity fraud. People now shred bank and legal papers that include information like bank account numbers and don’t give out personal information on the phone unless they are sure who they are talking to (usually meaning they placed the call).

There is a lot more we can and need do. With a little thought and care on our part a lot of the current identity theft and fraud could be intercepted. But we need to think about the many options thieves have; there are dozens of methods they use to get your data.

Most people are not really as careful with receipts as they should be.

Many receipts have our credit/debit card numbers printed out in full or the receipt we receive when you buy goods or services people render to us. If you need to keep receipts file them in a safe place; if you don’t need to keep a receipt, shred it (don’t put them in a dust-bin).

So called “Garbage containers” is still a major source of information for identity thieves.

When disposing of a computer, it will be better to use a special program that wipes all data or remove and destroy the hard drive (not an easy task, youngsters of nowadays are desperate about getting money!). Remember that deleting files on your hard drive does not remove anything; it just marks a file as unwanted.

Credit cards offer thieves many options. It is amazing that an individual may take extraordinary precautions to shred all their monthly paperwork that might be found at the dump but do not think twice about giving a waiter they have never seen their credit card to take into the back room where it is totally out of sight, the kind of situation which lends itself easily to skimming.

 Experts say in spite of people’s fears of doing business online, using online billing and financial statements can be safer than using the mail (if you learn how to make good passwords). More than 10% of identify theft is achieved through stealing mail. Anyone who handles your physical mail has an opportunity to steal your information.

Think about the information you post in public places on Twitter,

Facebook and what have you!  How hard would it be for someone to get those favorite security answers they need, like “Who was the best man at your wedding?” or “What was the make of your first car?”

 Remember! The bad guys keep trying new scams. So, try to be security conscious and pay attention to the news everyday you will hear stories about new ways people are being taken advantage of by a new scam of different type. Many people involve in identity fraud of different kind. Don’t become one of their victims.

 Along the same lines, check your bank accounts and credit card accounts regularly and not only look over your printed statements, also check your accounts online regularly. If you see anything out of line, especially a charge you did not make, contact your financial institution immediately and put a hold on the account. They will give you a new number and you will be out no expense.

TIAMIYU ADIO ISMAIL