Identity Theft Prevention Starts with a Plan

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Identity theft prevention, also known as personal security planning, is not all that different than personal financial planning, if you think about it. Through personal security planning, you gain greater control over your identity and your security, and enjoy the peace of mind knowing you are less visible and vulnerable to the most common forms of identity theft.

Think about it: identity thieves utilize a number of strategies when planning their identity fraud crimes. We should take a page from their book and put a personal security plan in place that can help prevent identity theft.

Identity theft rarely happens by chance and usually requires some sort of planning to work effectively for the thief. Stealing personal information, like a home address or credit card number, may be simple enough; but building on that information to create a financial clone of the victim that's convincing enough to fool a bank or credit card company requires some degree of planning. Identity fraud is a sophisticated and damaging form of ID theft.

Identity thieves are also constantly adapting their techniques to get around new security mechanisms and defenses, and they aren't the only ones who recognize the importance of planning. Most hackers work to a plan, as do virus authors, spammers, spyware purveyors, online predators, and all the other things that go bump on the 'net.

Today there are very few big businesses that don't use security planning as the cornerstone of their fight against cybercrime and ID theft. We should learn how to develop a protection from them.

Most consumers don't realize that they're much more likely to fall victim to a theft of identity committed by someone much closer to them — such as a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or even family member — than a high-tech database heist by organized crime.

That's why consumers need to first look at their own habits, behavior, and financial lifestyle, and to see themselves as identity thieves see them, so they can begin building a personal security perimeter to make themselves less vulnerable to thieves.

After all, if you're not looking in the right direction, how can you see an identity thief creeping up on you? Creating a secure perimeter, one that will work when it's needed most, requires a plan.

The Power of Identity Theft Prevention Planning

Personal security planning may be the only good news to come out of the identity theft epidemic. In the middle of a crime spree that's dominated by doom-and-gloom headlines, planning offers a refreshing relief because it can give you a great deal of power over your identity and security, and offers the peace of mind of knowing that you're not completely powerless in protecting your most precious financial asset.

The core principle of personal security planning is as simple as it is important; if you can identify and eliminate your vulnerabilities before an identity thief finds and exploits them, you stand a very good chance of protecting yourself from the most common and usually the most costly forms of ID theft.

There are two important reasons why consumers may be failing in their own protection — it can be difficult to guard all vulnerabilities all the time, and consumers receive so much well-meant, but often conflicting, advice on how to protect themselves that confusion often paralyzes them into doing nothing.

Personal security planning overcomes those two challenges by helping consumers make sense of all the different advice and solutions, keep track of where they might be vulnerable, and apply the right defenses in the right places.

Planning also puts the consumer one step ahead and in greater control of their identity and their security. A properly executed plan will serve as an essential roadmap to guide consumers around all those traps that may be laying in wait.

And there are other good reasons to plan:

  • Planning offers a "General's Eye" view of all your risks and vulnerabilities, not just some. Identity thieves always look for the weakest link, and we all have at least one.
  • Better planning can mean greater peace of mind, knowing that you're in control and not constantly responding to fear, uncertainty, and the next big headline.
  • Planning can save you money, by reducing the chance you'll be the victim of a costly crime, and helping you avoid wasteful spending on security products and services you may not really need.

Identity theft prevention begins with careful planning. And like all plans, there's no point in putting one in place unless it's easy to implement and maintain. That's the beauty of the Privacy Matters IdentitySM program — it provides you with assessment tools, safeguards and identity monitoring services that are convenient and easy to use. And isn't that what you need when you want to prevent identity theft?

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