Online scams are a huge problem in today’s digital world. One of the most dangerous and most common threats out there is identity theft. This is when someone gets hold of your secure information like your I.D number, credit card number, password or email address and impersonates you for their own benefit. Usually this includes transferring large sums of money from your account, buying items over the internet or using your credit card to withdraw money or buy items. Luckily for us, there are plenty of free and effective ways to detect, prevent and recover from identity fraud. Here’s how to spot the signs, protect yourself and find solutions.

Detecting Identity Fraud

A lot of victims of identity fraud have gone weeks or even months without realizing they were taken advantage of by means of identity fraud. By the time most people realize that money is missing from their account, etc., it’s too late to catch the culprit or recover your stolen cash. That’s why detecting the signs and becoming aware of how identity theft works could save you from a whole lot of trouble. Identity fraudster can use your information for things that include opening bank accounts, obtaining loans, using your existing bank account, obtaining official documents such as driver’s licenses and id-theft-protectionpassports. So your information is at serious risk for some real fraud opportunities that could even land you in trouble with the police and cost you thousands of dollars. If you notice even the slightest disturbance with any of your online accounts, bank accounts or even cell phone bills, it’s important to investigate immediately. Also, signing up for instant cell phone banking notifications could go a long way to preventing someone from taking over your account or getting away with their crime. Keep your eyes open, stay aware online and off and remember to make the right choice when faced with things like handing over your password, using unreliable internet connections or entering your details while unsavory characters lurk nearby.

Protecting Yourself

Now here’s the most important part – how can you protect yourself against becoming a victim of identity fraud? It’s not as difficult as you think! Firstly, as I mentioned above, stay aware. Don’t throw away any documents that show your details and information. Investing in a paper shredder is always a great option for those old bank slips and paid bills. If you don’t want to go to such extremes, simple make sure to throw your documents away in a secure and safe bin that can’t be accessed by passersby. We all receive those annoyingly obvious spam emails asking to put thousands of dollars into our accounts and we know to simply press delete, but fraudsters are becoming sneakier as years go by. If you receive any phone calls, emails, strange post or even a suspicious visit from someone who seems like they might want to take advantage of your details, immediately follow up with your bank, the police or simple say “No thank you” and move away from the situation. In any situation where someone is asking for your delicate details and is very persistent, see that as a red flag. Also, any offers that seem too good to be true usually are, so be on the lookout and avoid them. Make sure to check your bills thoroughly at the end of the month, every month. As I said, things like instant banking notifications can great options for staying secure and aware of what’s going on in your account. Keep your information up to date. If you move houses, change banks, or have requested a new credit card, make sure to stay on top of things and correct all your information with your bank, phone company and anyone who sends you mail.

Recovering From Identity Fraud

This is the hard part. If you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, make sure to act quickly. There’s always a chance of tracking these criminals down and even getting your cash back if it’s been stolen, which it usually is. Don’t hesitate on reporting things like stolen credit cards, unusual activity on your card or strange phone calls. If you’re not sure what to do, contact your bank and they will direct you through the steps to recovering your account and filing the report. Go to the professionals at your local bank and let them help you through your dilemma. After all, they are the pros, they know exactly what do to. But most importantly, don’t sleep on subject of identity fraud. If you think it’s happened to you or someone is trying to steal your identity, don’t leave it for the next week, and report it immediately.

Author Bio: Dmitri Blackthorn is a specialist in security, DDoS mitigation and media software development. Dmitri’s latest software project – Free music converter website.