Identity theft is becoming the fastest growing crime in the U.S. It is a crime, but it is very hard to track down the criminal. Many people don’t even know they are victims until its too late and by then the damage is done.
So what is Identity Theft exactly? Identity Theft is where a criminal is able to get a hold of a persons personal information in a way that involves deceit and fraud. These people then use that information for a monetary gain. This is where it gets tricky. You see if your social security number, bank account, or credit card are obtained by someone else it can be used by that person. Your identity, in theses terms, are not like your finger print. Your finger print is unique to you. However, everybody has a social security number, which is not necessarily unique to them. Once someone has taken your identity or personal information it is hard to identify the criminal because their information is just like yours.
What are some common types of Identity Theft? There are many types of identity theft, but the most common are dumpster diving, listening carefully to peoples conversations about personal information, and the internet. Many criminal get their information from going through peoples trash. Many people get pre-approved credit card offers from company’s and they through them away. Well, that allows for criminals to get a hold of the card and then activate it. It is a very simple way to commit identity theft, but very effective and it does happen a lot. Over the shoulder identity theft is not as common, but it does happen. People essentially just pay very close attention to a person in a public place in the hope that the person will reveal sensitive information. When it comes to the internet things get much more complicated. Many people have begun to use their computer to make banking transactions, which has allowed criminals to gain access to bank accounts. Crooks can hack into accounts, gain passwords, and lurk around your computer to gain an opportunity to steal your identity and personal information.
What can I do to protect myself from Identity Theft? Be stingy about the information you give out. Not everybody needs to know your personal information. In most cases you can use your drivers license number instead of social security number. Check financial information often to make sure there has been no strange transactions in your account. Also, maintain careful records of your financial information. Put all your records in a safe place in your home.
To find out more information about identity fraud go to government and private organizations for more information. Consumer.gov and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are two good places to start.
Don’t become a victim of identity theft. These are just some ways to protect yourself, but there are many more. Be careful and watch what you say and do when it comes to personal information. You never know who is watching.