The horror of your home being burgled hits you immediately: The missing TV and sound system, empty jewellery box, upturned drawers and missing keepsakes. Yet what if something even more valuable has been taken? What do you do if you find yourself suddenly a victim of identity theft? Having someone else access your bank accounts, credit cards, superannuation or use your name to rack up debts and offences can be more devastating than the loss of property. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes and one of the hardest to police. Today we look at identity theft and home security monitoring measures to prevent the loss of your greatest asset – your identity.
What is identity theft?
The information age has made face-to-face business and financial dealings almost redundant. Armed with just a few simple personal details such as your name, address, date of birth and tax file number it is possible to establish new bank accounts, take out loans and make purchases. Identity theft occurs when criminals get hold of this valuable personal information and assume your identity to steal money, gain other benefits or conduct illegal operations. It leaves its victims financially and emotionally drained.
Who can be the victim of identity theft?
It is not just internet uses who can be vulnerable to identity theft. Home burglaries may be used as a front to disguise identity theft. It may not be the TV thieves were after but your stored bank and other personal details. Protecting your property through home security monitoring measures such as back to base alarms and CCTV camera systems can be effective in minimising your risk of identity theft.
How do you know if your identity has been stolen?
If your home has been broken-into consider what information perpetrators may have had access to. Carefully check your filing drawers – are any bank, social security, business or travel documents missing or disturbed? Had you left any utility bills or financial statements lying out for burglars to access?
Thieves may also target areas outside your home. Residential mail boxes are prime targets and alarm bells should ring if statements or important documents fail to arrive. What about your garbage bin – thieves are not put off by smelly rubbish when searching for personal information. Use your home security monitoring systems to help identify any breaches of your home perimeter.
What should you do if you have become the victim of identity theft?
If you suspect that you have become a victim of identity theft don’t wait until mysterious charges start appearing on your credit cards! Act immediately. Report the situation to police and contact any financial institutions with which you have dealings. Contact your social security office, tax office, and keep a close eye on your financial statements. Inform family and friends so they are aware of the situation. This is also the time to carefully consider your home security monitoring systems and whether your property has sufficient protection.
How can you prevent identity theft?
Guard your personal details carefully. Be cautious of giving out personal information on the phone or internet and be careful about how you store your paperwork at home. Home security plays an important role in safeguarding your identity against thieves who can not just tarnish your good name but create a nightmare that could devastate you financially and emotionally.
A monitored alarm system can stop these people instantly – don’t leave it until it’s too late!