Currently ID Theft is the most largest growing crime in world history. With over 1 Million people last year in The United States, suffering from one form of ID Theft or another. It has become a growing epidemic. Partly because of the many ways a criminal could successfully obtain that which is key to your every day life, your Identity. It is also such an epidemic because so many people do not understand Identity Theft. I think it is very important that we address that first.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is when someone uses your personal information to commit fraud or another crime, posing as you. Identity thefts typically use personal information such as your name, address, Social Security number, and credit card or bank account numbers to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, get passports, sign lease, or financing agreements. The three most common forms of personal identity theft are:
1. Financial ID Theft
-- Thieves use your name and Social Security Number to commit financial fraud such as applying for credit cards or opening a bank account in your name.
2. Criminal ID Theft
-- Thieves can also give your name and personal information when stopped by a police officer or when charged with a crime. If the thief uses your name, you will be served with a warrant for arrest for a crime you never committed.
3. Identity Cloning
-- Thieves can use your personal information to establish a new life, posing as you. They pose as you and apply for a new job, rent an apartment, establish new cell phone service, ect. Often people in trouble with the law, illegal aliens, or people trying to escape abuse attempt this type of Identity theft.
How can someone steal your ID?
There are many ways someone could successfully steal your Identity. They range from the most simple every day actions we take for granted too the more complex methods. It's frighteningly simple for someone to obtain your personal information. Think about how many times a day you purchase something online, do banking, fill out an application or throw out a credit card receipt or piece of mail. While the most common way for a thief to steal your Identity is by stealing a wallet or purse, they can also steal personal information by:
* Stealing mail and getting information from your credit card or bank statement
* Obtaining personal information you post or share via the Internet
* Stealing information from offices or places of business by illegally entering the computer system (“hacking”) or stealing/copying files
* Going through trash
* Posing as someone else requesting personal information (i.e. Bank representative, credit card company)
Once someone has stolen your personal information there is a long list of ways a thief can use it. For example, the thief can pose as you and:
* Apply for a new credit card
* Run up charges on your credit card or bank card purchasing items online or by phone
* Rent an apartment
* Apply for social services and benefits (i.e. Unemployment benefits, welfare benefits)
* Obtain a wireless phone and cellular services
* Open a bank account in your name and bounce checks
* Buy big-ticket items such as cars, furniture, electronics, ect.
Once someone realizes that their Identity has been stolen they have to begin the process of reclaiming their Identity, reporting the crime, and rectifying the effects. Unfortunately, while a victim is trying to re-establish their good credit, as a result of having their identity stolen they maybe be denied credit, turned down for a loan or a job, not be able to obtain insurance, have student loan or tuition assistance denied, personal property seized and even be wrongly arrested.
Depending on the extent of the theft, it can take years and large sums of money to rectify the situation. The FBI reports that the average loss for victims is on average between $500 – 1,500 and took them at least 30 hours to rectify the situation and repair their credit.
If you're a victim of Identity Theft this can be very over whelming with the mix feelings of fear, disappointment, your own lack of trust in people, lack of understanding, helplessness, and over time it can be very stressful. ID Theft can not just hurt your good name, but also your state of mind and general health. Constantly feeling the desperate need to reclaim your life back and to continually feel the pressure of proving that these where in fact, not your own actions can leave you in total disarray.