Identity theft in a digital age requires personal protection procedures

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 10:00 am

Identity theft in a digital age requires personal protection procedures

BY DANIEL BOYLAN
Guest Commentary

Purdue Exponent

Gone are the days when people paid for items with cash or by writing checks. In the digital economy, credit and debit cards are the methods of choice for most consumers to complete transactions, unintentionally creating opportunities for theft on an unseen level.


Identity theft is an invisible crime differing greatly from having a stereo or gym shoes stolen. Identity theft and fraud are varieties of crime in which online predators steal personal and financial data. It can be committed by individuals that the person knows or someone who resides on the other side of the globe.

As we have seen recently, large stores like Target, Neiman-Marcus and Michael’s have admitted their information networks were hacked, compromising personal data of more than 100 million customers.

Despite all these invisible threats, you aren’t helpless. Consumers can turn to the “Three Ds” to protect themselves from identity theft: deter, detect and defend.

Deter: Take steps to prevent identity theft from occurring. For example, don’t respond to emails seeking financial or personal information. Create more secure passwords by incorporating numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters. Never give out personal information on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, and shred personal documents to keep thieves from retrieving them from the trash or local dump. One would be surprised at the amount of information someone can find on you in just a few minutes, and most of this information is supplied voluntarily.

Detect: Stay aware of what’s happening around you and be alert to signs of potential theft. Examples might include a creditor calling about an alleged past due bill, rejection letters for credit on purchases you didn’t make or withdrawals from your bank account you cannot explain. Once events like these happen, immediately contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, by phone or email. You should also obtain a credit report and review the data for accuracy.

Defend: If you’ve been victimized, contact the three credit bureaus and have a “fraud alert” put on your account. These companies make money by selling your information to credit card companies and other creditors. The alert is intended to limit the information these companies provide without your knowledge. When someone has fraudulently obtained credit, let the companies know it was obtained. Most likely, you will be asked to file a police report to ensure that you are being honest.

By following these three D’s of identity theft, you can minimize the risk to yourself, and rest easy with your next card or electronic purchase.

Daniel Boylan is a Ph.D. student at Purdue in the College of Technology and teaches Personal Finance at Ball State University.

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Monday, February 17, 2014 10:00 am.


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Article source: http://www.purdueexponent.org/opinion/article_a6ae0b0d-61f1-5358-916d-4680b80257a8.html

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