Unknown, Catch me if you can, The Net and Face Off are just some of the movies that tackle identity theft. Identity theft is a growing problem. It involves the stealing of a person’s identification to be used for fraudulent purposes, such as financial, criminal, medical crime.
Problems caused by Identity Theft
According to statistics, almost 15 million people are affected by Identity Theft in the United States alone. Financial Loses connecting to identity theft has been estimated to amount to $50 billion.
To be a victim is one of the most horrible experiences a person has to go through. Not only it is traumatic as something valuable to you was stolen to you, but recovering from Identity Theft can entail a long time. It is said a victim of Identity Theft needs up to 600 hours to resolve their problems. (Federal Trade Commission)
A victim could face bad financial records which will result in denial of credit if the person’s identity was used for financial fraud. Denial of credit would mean that the victim will have a harder time obtaining credit card, loans and mortgages.
The sooner the person discovers that he/she is a victim of Identity Theft, the bigger the financial loss can occur. What’s worse is that if the money was stolen by obtaining bank information or credit card, the bank will not be held responsible for it. Therefore, it puts the burden on the victim.
If the thief has incurred a substantial amount of money, the victim may get calls from debt collectors insisting for payment.
Lawsuits and Arrests are also some of the problems that a victim can face. Banks or creditors may try to sue the victim to augment the financial loss set by the thief.
A victim’s life may be at risk if the Identify Theft was used for medical purposes. The thief can claim insurance by giving false claims therefore, altering the victim’s medical record. This can cause the victim getting inappropriate treatment.
Lastly, if the Identity Theft was used for criminal activities the victim will have a hard time clearing their record. Obtaining a criminal record is hard so sometimes the victim does not any idea that his/her Identity has already been compromised. Usually, the victims discover this by being summoned to the court, getting jailed for a crime the person did not commit or getting denied at the job because the victim has a criminal record.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime that has escalated with the emergence of new technology; stealing your name, credit card number, bank accounts, Social Security number, and medical records, anything that pertains to you. In short, they steal your personal information. Don’t let yourself be a victim. They are like hungry wolves ready to pounce anytime, anywhere, and you are NOT an exception to their rule. These thieves can either be individuals or syndicates.
Be Ahead of Them
You NEED to be extra cautious and smart enough to reduce your risk. Think like how these frauds think. Be shrewd as well, which means you have to be a step ahead of them. There are several ways for you to protect yourself from identity theft both offline and online. It always pays to be diligent all the time. Save yourself from the trouble of being victimized.
Helpful Ways to Protect Yourself
Keep all documents containing important details like statements, notes, bills, banking accounts, credit card numbers, PIN, passwords, etc. in a well secured place. If these documents are no longer in use, it is better to tear them up using a shredder. Be mindful of your mail coming in and check your mailbox on a regular basis. If you are travelling, don’t toss your receipts or bills into the trash. Keep them and shred the unwanted ones once you get home.
Chequebooks should be kept properly. It is unwise to leave them around as if these are just reading books. It is a must to go through your entries whenever you are writing a cheque. Regularly monitor your financial accounts and transactions. If you find something out of the ordinary, take all necessary measures to find out any fraudulent transactions and report them right away.
Protect Yourself Online
For your online or web accounts, it is always advisable to change your password every once in a while. Don’t create passwords that are too obvious, like your birthday, favorite color, nickname, pet’s name, etc. Use combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. And never share them with anyone. Memorize your passwords, or if you can’t do that, write them down but remember to keep them in a secure place. When making a transaction online, do not do so in an internet cafe or using someone else’s computer. Bear in mind to think before you click whenever you are using the internet.
Identity theft will not be eradicated, even though there already existing laws, you are on your own to protect yourself in the first plan.