What is Identity Theft?
One person (or more), using information gathered from various sources, takes on the identity of another person without permission and conducts illegal activities using that identity. The intent is to use that identity for personal monetary gain, with the intent to defraud others. Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good n ame and credit 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 rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personal identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including: dumpster diving, skimming, phishing, changing your address, lost or stolen purses, stolen mail from mailboxes, etc. Some thieves go “wholesale” by getting lists of personal information through computer hacking, theft or bribery. This information can be re-sold to other criminals or used numerous times by the original thief or thieves. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States.
How can you find out if your identity was stolen?
The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft.
What should you do if your identity is stolen?
Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name.
What can you do to help fight identity theft?
Awareness is an effective weapon against many forms identity theft. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen.
Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves’ jobs much more difficult. You can also help fight identity theft by educating your friends, family, and members of your community.
For more information about Identity theft please attend one of Standard Bank’s ID theft seminars.
We are also offering neighborhood shred events to help avoid identitiy theft.