15th October, 2015
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft – Part 1
Identity theft is a problem any time of the year and we thought it might be helpful to share some tips and best practices for avoiding becoming a victim of identity theft with our Philly apartment residents. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 data breaches in 2014. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recorded 332,646 identity theft complaints in 2014, an increase from 2013.
Although the internet has made many things easier – from online banking to shopping – it is also easier for criminals to steal and misuse personal data. Pennsylvania ranked #5 in the United States for cybercrime in 2014, according to the 2015 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offers the following tips to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft:
- Be aware of your surroundings. If someone bumps into you, don’t assume it was an accident. Women should clutch purses closely at their side or in front of them with the wallet hidden at the bottom. Men should stow wallets in an inside jacket pocket.
- Don’t carry large sums of cash. Charge your purchases or use a debit card. Just remember that credit cards offer some protections that debit cards don’t. When you use a credit card, you can dispute a purchase before paying for it. With a debit card, the money is removed from your account at the time of the purchase. A thief can wipe out your checking or savings account before you ever realize the theft has taken place
- Guard your PIN number at the ATM. Be aware of anyone lurking around the ATM, and if someone is standing too close, simply ask him or her to step back. Thieves can also install devices that read your information at the ATM without you knowing it. If you notice anything unusual about the ATM, use a different one, and report what you’ve seen to the bank.
- Don’t let your credit card out of your sight. Unscrupulous clerks or waiters can copy your card information or swipe your card into a second card reader and later make a new credit card for themselves. Even worse, they can sell your information to an organized crime ring.
- Lighten your wallet. Remove anything from your wallet that you don’t absolutely need to have with you. That way, if someone is successful in stealing it, they won’t get as much. Never carry your Social Security card with you, but check other cards that might use your SS# as an identifier. If you’re not going to be using your checkbook, leave it at home.
It is easy to think that once you lock the door of your apartment in Philadelphia you are safe from crime, however taking the necessary safety precautions extends far beyond where you live and can help protect you from identity theft.