How to protect yourself against identity theft

Posted at 04/21/2014 11:21 AM | Updated as of 04/22/2014 9:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines - With the advancement of technology, thieves now go beyond stealing your wallet. They have discovered that they stand to gain much more by stealing your identity.

Identity theft takes place when someone wrongfully uses your personal identification to get cash, credit, services, and other things. They may even commit crimes while using your identity, such as when they contact your friends to ask for emergency loans by making your friends erroneously think that they are talking to you.

Identity thieves are everywhere. Many of them are lurking online, eager to steal information about your identity with a bag full of tricks.

One example is phishing, wherein thieves create replicas of the websites of real companies to get your information. Others steal your identity information by getting hold of your personal documents. Then there are the voyeuristic types who will look over your shoulder as you work on a public computer or as you key in your PIN or personal identification number into the ATM.

These days, there are some cardholders who were tricked into surrendering not just their credit cards but even their PINs to fraudsters who claim they were selected for a promotion that will upgrade their plastic along with a much higher credit line. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is – so beware.

Here are ten points to remember to help you safeguard your identity:

1. Exert extra precautions online. When using any computer or gadget, especially in public places, clear your logins and passwords. Change logins and passwords monthly.

2. Shop and pay only with trusted websites. When shopping online or sending payments, be on the lookout for phishing spams by not clicking on links or pop-ups. Always verify that you’re using the correct real website by looking for security features like the https on the URL or the icon of a padlock.

3. Monitor your account statements. Go through all the entries to make sure you know where each one came from. If there is something that is not yours, immediately call your bank or credit card provider.

4. Protect your personal information on social media. Don’t put your full name, birthdate and address on your social networks. Make sure that when you post any photo, your personal information is not included.

5. Shred sensitive documents. Bank statements, credit card applications, bills, and anything with your personal information should not be disposed where people can get them to copy your personal identification details. Note that even junk mail includes some of your personal details, so don’t leave this lying around.

6. Consider taking identity theft and fraud insurance. These may be offered by your credit card providers. This will definitely go a long way in protecting you from having to pay for fraudulent transactions made in your name.

7. Report a lost card soon after discovery. If you lose your wallet with your ATM and credit cards, immediately call your credit card provider or bank so they can freeze your account.

8. Monitor the expiration dates of your cards. Make sure that you get your replacement cards within a reasonable period of time before the expiration of your card. If you do not get the replacement card by a certain date, call the credit card company to ensure that your card has not fallen into the wrong hands.

9. Do not carry all your extra credit cards and personal identification cards in one wallet. Unless absolutely necessary, do not carry your birth certificate, social security card, or passport, especially when you are travelling. Keep these under lock and key. For your own safety, have photocopies and electronic copies of these documents at hand.

10. Never give out any of your personal information over the phone unless you can confirm the caller, or you initiated the call yourself. Thieves may pose as marketers in order to get your personal information. Some may even fool you into believing you have won a raffle in order to get your personal and bank information.

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Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between ABS-CBNnews.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.

Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.