The rising incidence of identity theft has many Americans updating the security settings on their computer, obtaining a copy of their credit reports and watching their mail closely. All of these measures are important and necessary steps to prevent a criminal from compromising a consumer's finances and medical records. But in Americans' haste to ward off a cyber attack or data breach, many forget that thieves may still resort to simple crimes that have costly financial results: old-fashioned purse snatching.
Protecting the information an individual carries around with them is just as important as setting up an anti-virus or malware protection program at home. The elderly, women with children, or consumers carrying around heavy bags from the supermarket are all potential targets that criminals seek out, because they are more vulnerable. Even once an individual realizes they have been robbed and cancelled all their credit cards, the thief may still have enough information - such as name, address, date of birth, health insurance and possibly Social Security number - to obtain financial information.
According to the Chicago Tribune, individuals in a crowd are vulnerable to theft and should make sure any purse or handbag they are carrying is tucked close the body and zipped up completely. Sometimes, draping the purse strap over one's shoulder and wearing a light jacket over it may conceal the purse itself. Both men and women should also pay close attention to their surroundings when opening their wallet or purse in view of others, the newspaper said. Carrying minimal cash and credit cards can also lessen the financial blow in the event of a theft and cut down on the number of cards that must be cancelled.
If a theft occurs, consumers should make sure they take all the necessary steps to prevent the thief from using the information. In addition to contacting the banks to cancel credit cards and filing a report with the police, individuals should request that a fraud alert be placed on their credit report, according to identity theft online resource, IdentityTheftLabs. Fraud alerts will be added to an individual's credit file and require lenders and retailers to take additional steps to verify the identity of anyone that attempts to open or use a line of credit in the victim's name.