Identify makes us who we are. Have u ever thought about this; a criminal is writing your name, address, and Social Security number on credit card applications and charge hundreds to thousands worth of merchandise on those credit cards? How do you know that this is not happening right now? Millions of people are victims of identity theft and they find out after thousands have been stolen using their names. Identify theft is a serious problem that claims millions of innocent victims, and we need to end this crime.
What is identity theft? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying in formation, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Over the years with the increased use of the Internet and the convenience of automated teller machines and credit cards, identity theft has become a major problem in our everyday life. Large amount of electronic commerce are conducted on a daily bases, either at an actual business location with debt and credit cards or through the internet where our personal information is vulnerable to theft and fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) calls it “the fastest growing crime in America.” Identity theft does not discriminate it affects all ages, genders and economic classes. In fact identity theft can happen to anyone, even celebrities. Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Tiger Woods and Christopher Cleghorn (My Husband) all of whom had their identities stolen. This crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent apartment, vehicles, obtain a credit card or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make or until you are contacted by a debt collector. Some identity theft victims may resolve their problems quickly; others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In some cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. There are over 9 million Americans who are victims of identity theft each year, most commonly the victim knows the thief. Knowing how identity theft occurs is vital in beating this crime.
Identity thieves get your information through the following means:
• They go through your trashcans, looking for straight cut or un-shredded papers, an activity more commonly known as dumpster-diving.
• They steal mail or wallets.
• They listen in on conversations in public.
• They trick victims into giving there information over the telephone or by email.
• They buy the information either on the Internet or from someone who may have stolen it.
• They get it from the victim’s computer, especially one that lacks firewalls.
• They obtain information from a friend or a relative or someone who works for the victim who has access to the victim’s personal information.
• They use skimming electronic devices designed to obtain information from the magnetic strip on credit cards.
• They complete a change of address form with the U.S. Postal Service to divert your mail to another location.
• They victim’s personal information through social media ie; Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Google plus, tagged and online dating sites.
What should you do if your identity is stolen?
• File a police report.