Whilst the risk of identity theft is present, its occurrence is rare and easily preventable.
What’s disconcerting is that consumers in Southeast Asia are so concerned about putting themselves at risk that they’re choosing cash over electronic payment methods, believing that cash is more secure.
Cash however, is not only inconvenient and unsafe – it could also be costly towards your health. A 2002 study by the Southern Medical Journal revealed that US dollar notes were thriving breeding grounds for pathogens such as pneumonia-causing bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Findings from the MasterCard Safety and Security Index revealed that consumer’s concerns over identity theft exceeded their actual experiences with it – while 35% of consumers were concerned about falling victim to identity theft, only 6% of consumers had actually experienced it.
Where do these fears arise from? 43% of respondents said that newspaper reports on identity theft had influenced their outlook.
To allay your concerns, we’ve put together five common misconceptions about identity theft, and ways you can minimize your chances of having your identity stolen.
#1: “Identity theft occurs so randomly; there’s no way I can prevent it from happening!”
Truth: Identity theft is often prevented with a good measure of common sense, and a sound knowledge of safe shopping habits.
Tip: Always choose a strong password for your social networks and online shopping accounts, and never share that kind of personal information with anyone.
#2: “It’s my bank’s fault if I become a victim of identity theft.”
Truth: The majority of identity theft cases often begin offline, and banks aren’t the main targets for thieves. Personal information can be extracted from innocuous locations, like a lost or stolen wallet or a personal diary.
Tip: Report any missing wallets or payment tools to your bank and local law enforcement authorities immediately! When making the report, share as much relevant information as possible – it’ll help your bank track and halt any fraudulent activities. Pay attention to your bank statements and keep your bank posted if you encounter suspicious activity on your bank statements.
#3: “It is safe to give my personal information over the phone if the caller ID confirms that it’s my bank.”
Truth: It’s never safe to give personal information to unsolicited callers, no matter who they say they are. Caller IDs are easily falsified, and are often used to trick unsuspecting victims.
Tip: If you’re skeptical about a bank caller’s legitimacy, hang up and call the bank back at its listed phone number.
#4: “My personal contact information (emailing address, telephone number, eemail address, etc.) is not valuable to an identity thief.”
Truth: All information you place online – from the photographs you share on social media to the age you list on your favorite online shopping site – can be used to impersonate you and must be protected.
Tip: Consider making your personal information available on a need-to-know basis only. Businesses often ask for personal information that they don’t need. The onus is on you to omit any information you’re not willing to give.
#5: “It is not safe to shop or bank online.”
Truth: Shopping and banking online are safe – as long as you make good choices about where and how you do it.
Tip: Remember to confirm a site is legitimate before you use it. Shop only on sites that are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)-certified. These can be identified through the lock symbol that shows up next to your browser’s URL box when the site loads. Do also ensure that you are connected to a secure Internet connection when shopping and banking online or on your mobile device.
Smart consumers are proactive, rather than reactive. While your bank and payments processor will provide you with the latest tools and solutions to protect you from fraud attacks, the responsibility identity theft prevention lies with you.
Click here to learn more about payment security, and what you can do to keep your money safe.