According to Veda credit bureau identity theft affected more than 770,000 people over the last year, costing on average $4000/person. All of those identity theft victims faced a nightmare that had the potential to leave them financially ruined. Identity theft is when someone steals and uses personal details to gain some financial advantage. No one is immune to this kind of violation and the amount of time and energy spent recovering documentation from the many financial transactions, credit card and loan applications can be very stressful. Some people have even had to face court and debt collectors for debts they never incurred.

There are ways you can keep your personal details secure:

Lock your letterbox: Easy access to your mail is a fraudsters dream. Anything from electricity bills to Centerlink letters can be used to find out details about you and your accounts. Credit-card companies sending cards in the mail and follow up with the PIN a couple of days later are BIG opportunities for a grubby identity thief.

Lock your computer: Many banks and institutions now prefer emailed statements leaving your personal details easily accessible if your computer is a free for all. Having password access to your computer and not leaving your email accounts opened all the time are the best solution to keeping your details safe. If you can’t remember your password don’t leave it close to your computer if you write it down. Additionally keep your firewall and spyware protection up to date.  Don’t store your passwords in a folder on the computer get a password safe app for your phone or installed on your computer.  It is not advisable to use a cloud password safe application.

Set strong passwords: When thinking about how to set a strong password a great way to tackle it is to pick a favourite song and choose the first letter of each word in the the first line.  Easy to remember but hard to crack.

Keep a locked filling system: Shred all financial statements that bear account numbers but if you are filing tax returns you need to keep your documents for 5 years, so keep it under lock and key. If you have older statements or docs that you are trashing then shred them. Anything like statements for savings accounts, cheque accounts and credit cards, any pre-approved offers for credit that you receive and anything that has details that can be used by a thief.

Check the flashing light near the card slot at the ATM: A crook can record, or skim, the details of your credit card by attaching a sensor device to or near the slot that receives your card. However, the skimming device often blocks the flashing light that’s a permanent feature of most ATM slots. Check that the flashing light is working before using the ATM.

Giving personal information over the Internet or the phone is dangerous: If you’ve initiated the phone call then you will need to give identifying details to verify your account. But if you’ve been called out of the blue from an institution, and you can’t be sure of their identity, ask for their name and what department they are in so that you can call back. Look up the companies phone number independently and call back.

Protect your online presence: Keeping up with friends and family through the social networking sites, like Facebook, is a great way to keep in touch. Unfortunately, the grubby identity thieves quickly learn how to get around security measures, so be careful with what you upload to the site. You may even be at risk of having your name and photos stolen and a new account created. Be clear to your friends that you only have one account and ask they let you know if they receive a second friend request from them.

NEVER reply to e-mails that ask for your bank account details: Never give out any personal or financial information; they’re almost certainly scams.

NEVER click on a link or open an attachment to an email from someone you don’t know and trust: Opening attachments or clicking on links in emails can download malicious software into your computer. Type in the Web address yourself, rather than relying on a link.

Your identity is precious. Protect it with every thing you have.

If you’re facing financial hardship we are here to talk about a solution. Call us on 1300 887 211 or Book a Free No Obligation Phone Consultation with our friendly team and we can discuss debt management options specially focused on your personal situation.