How to prevent and stop identity theft

People should know how to prevent identity theft and how to deal with it if it does happen.

Anyone living in Missouri could find him or herself the victim of having their identity stolen. The theft of a person's identity is a crime that can range from using their credit card to full-blown impersonation. In today's digital age of crimes committed on the internet, what usually happens is somebody's personally identifiable information, such as their address, phone number or credit card number is obtained by another individual who uses it to manipulate the victim's assets and make unauthorized purchases. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways that people can protect themselves from having their identities stolen, and in the situation where it does happen, there are steps that can be taken to eliminate the problem.

Preventative measures against identity theft

Information is vulnerable not just in public places, but in unsecured websites on the internet as well. The following list includes a few things people can do to keep their information out of the wrong hands:

· Passwords used for electronic access should be complex and not the kind of thing a stranger could guess.

· Virus-detection software and firewalls can go a long way in protecting computers.

· Anything with personally identifiable information should be destroyed or shredded to before it is thrown away. This includes expired cards, account statements, and receipts.

· When people are going away for a few days or more, they can have the post office put their mail on hold.

· When typing any kind of password or pin number in public, it is important for people to make sure nobody is watching or looking over their shoulder.

· If an unfamiliar web page, letter, or caller asks for personal information like passwords, bank account numbers or social security number, that information should not be provided.

It is also generally good practice to memorize a social security number and not carry it around in public places.

What to do if an identity is stolen

If someone starts see purchases being made with his or her credit card that he or she did not make, or other unauthorized transactions start occurring, he or she should immediately notify his or her bank or relevant entity. In the case of a stolen credit card, banks can usually decline the unwanted purchases, cancel the card, and issue a new one. There are also companies that offer identity theft protection which can place a credit freeze or fraud alert on credit reports, or even lock, freeze, and flag those reports.

The all-too common crime of identity theft affects people every day in Missouri. Whether someone wants to press charges or be defended in the case of false charges, the representation by a local attorney who practices criminal law may help his or her case succeed.