Growing fears of identity theft have led many people to wonder when they should give out their personal information. Giving out personal information can be very dangerous in person, online and over the phone. It is very important for people to educate themselves on when it is safe to give their information out and what steps they can take to protect themselves from scam artists and thieves.
Giving Out Information When You Call Them
When there is a company that the consumer has an existing relationship with and the consumer has called them directly it is usually safe to give out further information. This means that if a consumer calls their credit card company using the number on their credit card statement it is safe to give them any extra information that they request. This also means that if a consumer gets a call from someone claiming to be their credit card company they are well within their rights to ask if they can call them back on their known number. A reputable credit company will be more than willing to honor this request.
Many online companies verify identity by allowing the user to see an image on their website and a pass code related to this image. Users should be very careful to select memorable images and pass codes so that they can always be certain that the website is verified. They also should always check the internet address of the websites they are using to make sure that it is the right address. Any address that looks a little wrong could easily be the address of a scam website that has been set up to look like the real website. Emails should never be clicked on that have URLs for this reason. Instead, URLs should always be manually entered in when possible.
Giving Out Information When Necessary
It is very important for a consumer to ascertain when information is vital to the service being performed. It is very rare for maiden names or social security numbers to be required for anything except credit related inquiries. A legitimate credit repair company may need to know this information but it is unlikely an online retailer will need it. Likewise, even an honest credit repair company may need to verify things like the last known addresses of a consumer but only a disreputable auction website would need to know this information. The consumer should think critically about all requests for personal information and, if necessary, consult customer service on why this information is needed and what it will be used for.
– Annabelle Smyth (Guest Writer)