In modern society, information has become a commodity that must be closely guarded by individuals, businesses and government organizations. It’s not uncommon to share very sensitive personal information both online and offline as a means of carrying on your everyday affairs. Perhaps the most prevalent danger of the way information is shared is the likelihood of it being stolen. Identity theft is an issue that has the potential to affect people from all walks of life. Finding effective prevention strategies is the key to keeping your identity all your own.
Basically, identity theft is when someone takes your personal information and uses it for his or herself. This might mean your bank account information, your name, address and social insurance or social security number, or even your driver’s license number. Sometimes, an identity thief will attempt to sort of take over your identity temporarily and apply for loans, credit cards or other financial products under your name. Other times, he may attempt to access your personal accounts and clean them out, leaving you with nothing. In today’s ‘online’ marketplace, many credit applications can be filled out without you even having to leave your own home. Someone with your banking information and some other personal information could theoretically apply for credit as you and cash it all out before you even know what has happened.What Is Identity Theft?
Perhaps the most important strategy when it comes to preventing identity theft is the regular and timely destruction of sensitive information. Many times, a business or other organization will have top-of-the-line security in place for current customers, but won’t have a method for dealing with information from past customers. Just because someone has finished his dealings with a business doesn’t mean that the personal information he shared is no longer relevant or desirable to an identity thief. The name and address is the same, the credit card number and bank account info. is likely the same, and any identifying government numbers will be the same. Leaving paper or computer files with older customer information just lying around is a very dangerous practice. That’s why it’s imperative to destroy such documents before they become a huge risk to the business and the clients and customers. Many places tend to break out the office shredder and get to work, but that isn’t nearly enough to deter a skilled identity thief. It may look like you have a pile of unrecognizable paper shreds lying in front of you, but in the right (or wrong) hands, those shreds will lead to someone bring a victim.Considerations
The real secret to preventing identity theft is to hire a professional service that has expertise destroying sensitive documents. An identity thief is an expert at stealing people’s sensitive information, so it only makes sense that you should use experts that prevent it from happening. Unlike doing it yourself, a document destruction service has experience in dealing with identity theft and is able to stay a few steps ahead all the time. They will guarantee that your documents are destroyed in such a way that they can never be reconstructed, and even take them to be recycled into other products. If you really want to ensure that your documents are gone, you can even watch it all happen right before your eyes. More reputable services will come to your business and destroy the documents on-site. This way, you can actually witness them being destroyed and feel secure that they never left your business while they were still intact. If you run a business that is regularly collecting people’s sensitive information, you can just turn the whole thing over to a document destruction service. They will do some analysis and put you on a schedule, so the odds of any information slipping through the cracks are virtually eliminated. Professional destruction services will also get rid of hard drives and any CDs, DVDs or digital files that contain information you don’t want in the wrong hands. These days, paper files are quickly being replaced by digital ones, so it’s imperative to take care of them, too.Document Destruction
For a business, utilizing the expertise of a professional document destruction service is definitely the way to go, but individuals can still follow a few tips to protect themselves. Anytime you are entering a PIN number at a bank machine or store, do your best to shield it from anyone who may be watching. Try to give as little personal and financial information as possible online or over the phone, and if you just don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason, then don’t give it at all. Don’t be shy to ask about a company or bank’s document destruction policies and methods, before you give out any information. If they are serious about keeping your information private, they’ll gladly share their strategies with you. If they won’t, go find a business that will.Personal Tips
It’s fairly evident what can happen to the individual if his personal information is compromised. An identity thief who takes out credit as you certainly doesn’t intend on paying it back. This means, you’re likely on the hook for the money and the may have to live with the subsequent damage to your credit rating. Even though it doesn’t affect your credit rating, if an identity thief cleans out your savings it will be equally as devastating. For an individual citizen, being the victim of identity theft can really turn your world upside down.Individual Consequences
Lawsuits, loss of business or complete destruction of a business are possible consequences for a business that falls victim to an identity thief. When identity theft infiltrates a business, it usually means the information belonging to the clients and customers of that business has been stolen. Most people who entrust their personal information with a business won’t take the news lying down. If even one person’s information is compromised and used against them, the reputation of the business will suffer, maybe permanently.Business Consequences