As technology becomes the driving force for personal & business transactions locally and internationally, a new crime called identity theft has been similarly on the rise in Singapore.
Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when someone wrongfully obtains & uses another individual’s personal data fraudulently.
Image 1: Hacker, pixabay
In many cases, victim’s losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses (such as credit card charged run up in the victim’s account) but additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his or her reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.
Distressing forms of identity theft tend to result when someone swipes not just your card but also your entire financial persona. With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual’s identity to conduct a wide range of crimes such as false applications for loans & credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts or obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminals might be denied if they were to use their real name.
How to safeguard against Identity Theft
If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. A Credit report contains a record of your credit payment history, and is released under legally permitted conditions to credit providers when they make enquiries about you. It includes information such as:
Basic personal profile details
Records of all credit checks made on you
Last 12 cycles of repayment trend showing the promptness of payments relative to their due dates ( No amount displayed)
Records of default, if any
Bankruptcy record, if any
Once you get your report, review them carefully. Look for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain. Check if information such as your ID number, address, name and other personal details are correct. If you find fraudulent or inaccurate information, contact CBS to get it removed.
A damaged credit record can impact your ability get a home loan.
Stay alert for signs of Identity theft, which can include:
Failing to receive bills or other mail. This could mean that an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
Receiving credit cards that you didn’t apply for.
Being denied credit for no apparent reason.
Getting calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you didn’t buy.
Other ways to prevent ID theft:
Do not give out your personal information on the phone, through the mail or on the internet unless you have initiated the contact or are sure who you are dealing with.
Treat your mail and deleted mails carefully by not disclosing personal information unnecessarily.
Promptly remove junk mail from your mailbox.
Tear or shred your receipts, copies of credit application, cheques and bank statements or expired charge cards.
Give out NRIC number only when necessary.