Identity fraud is one of the most common crimes of the 21st century. It's estimated that at least 6 in 10 people have been a victim at some point in their lives. Even worse is that at least 2 in 10 don't even realise it! This is what encourages identity fraud on such a large scale as so many people just aren't doing enough to prevent identity fraud.
It even happened to me at one point last year and I am extra careful. This was as a result of using an ATM machine that had a card reader installed. I always look closely at ATM machines and cover my hand as I write my pin however these criminals are getting more elusive by the day. Luckily I check my bank accounts on a daily basis and a few days later I noticed I had paid for a phone network bill that I am not a part of. This set of alarm bells and I contacted my bank to stop my card. This was just in time as that particular transaction was what is known as a "tester" whereby they check their cloned card actually works before going to buy bigger and more expensive items. It was easily sorted by the bank and I got my money back, however the experience showed me that there are many things we need to do to prevent identity fraud.
Before you go about trying to protect yourself from I.D Fraud you need to know what information to protect. Information such as Bank account number, sort code, credit card number, social security number, passport i.d, PIN, password and even your date of birth and email passwords are all high risk information. Make sure you keep these a secret and don't share them with anyone at anytime. Date of birth is included as you will be surprised how many people make the mistake of using a date of birth as their password or their year of birth as their pin! If you are currently doing that then change it!
Make sure your mail or post isn't easily accessible. If you live in a building with others then sometimes mail can be left in a communal area. This is where a lot of criminals will stalk to try grab and important document such as utility bill or bank statement. Never leave your mail out where someone can take it.
Run regular anti-virus and anti-spyware checks on your computer. Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated at finding ways to get your personal information and this involves a lot of hidden spyware. Even if you think you haven't noticed anything wrong with your computer you should always double check and run regular scans. A criminal could be spying on you right this very second.
Remember never to ever throw your bank statements away your regular trash. Criminals thrive on the important documents that people throw away all the time. Infact anything that has personal information on it should be destroyed in a shredder or even burnt. So any bills, bank statements, credit card statements should be destroyed or better still just kept in your own home in a safe place.
If eating out always try and pay by cash. Very often they take your card away out of sight and who knows what could be done with your card at that point! The restaurant may be a top place however it only takes one unruly employee to take down your details and steal your identity. Also when using ATMs be aware of the machine and anything slightly out of the ordinary that you might notice. If ever in doubt just go to a different one.
Identity fraud happens all the time and its not the worst thing in the world as many banks are able to detect and prevent it quite quickly these days, however its best to just avoid all hassle and be more careful in general.