Protecting Your Identity (Article)
Protecting Your Identity
Your identity is the single most important commodity that you own and it must be protected at all times. It is used to prove who are, where you live and what credit rating you have. This information is a necessary and fundamental part of everyday modern life but at present it cannot be proven with a single document or a single means of identification. This is because different organisations use different documents to confirm who you are and unfortunately these can be easily stolen, forged or altered to create a false identity or to steal an existing one.
If you become a victim of identity theft, reclaiming your identity and restoring your financial status can be a lengthy, time consuming and emotionally draining experience. However with a little forethought and careful planning, a number of simple preventive steps can be taken to reduce the possibility of this from happening. These include:
- Buy a cross cut shredder and use it to shred old bank statements, card receipts, utility bills, invoices, delivery notes, medical letters, direct mail and any other personal and confidential documents that contain your details.
- Never disclose your personal information to anyone that you do not know this particularly applies if you are unexpectedly contacted by telephone or email.
- Always question why you are being asked for personal information and if you have any concerns or doubts then refuse to disclose your details.
- Keep your personal and confidential documents secure in a lockable drawer, secure cabinet or safe, or ideally a combination of all three, and only carry these documents with you when it is absolutely necessary.
- If you are moving, immediately notify every company and organisation that you deal with to give them your change of address and also arrange with Royal Mail to have you post redirected for at least a year.
- When using your credit or debit card, always shield the keypad to conceal your PIN from onlookers and never let your card out of your sight, this particularly applies when paying in a shop, garage or restaurant.
- Limit the number of credit or debit cards that you have, never carry more cards than you need and immediately notify your card provider if they become lost or stolen.
- Do not include your date of birth, National Insurance or driving license number on your CV. There is no need for potential employers to have these and you cannot guarantee how they deal with confidential information.
- Register with the Mail Preference Service (MPS), Telephone Preference Service (TPS), Fax Preference Service (FPS) and Email Preference Service (eMPS) to have your personal details removed from sales and marketing lists.
- Ensure that any dormant accounts are formally closed because mail order or credit card accounts could easily be reactivated, particularly if they are registered to a pervious address.
By Matthew Record author of Protecting Your Identity, see www.howto.co.uk/learning/protecting-your-identity