The Identity Theft Epidemic

There are 5 types of Identity Theft:

1) Financial. This is where thieves use your identity to open new accounts in your name.

2) Medical. Your social security number is used to obtain medical services. Not only is this dangerous for you, but you may have this affect your credit in a negative way due to unpaid Emergency Services Bills that show up on your credit report. Not to mention the fact that if you are in a life threatening emergency and cannot speak for yourself you may be treated based on the information in the thieves medical records!

3) Employment. Illegal Aliens are stealing other peoples Identities for employment. Another downside to this is the Tax Liability that you face by the IRS and State Tax Board for wages that they assume you have earned!

4) Drivers Licenses. Once again people that do not qualify for a license or that have lost their Drivers License due to illegal activity may steal your identity to obtain a Drivers License! It doesn’t even have to be in the State that you reside in.

5) Character Theft. Your Identity was used to commit a crime! A criminal used your name and now the law is after you! Or a criminal was arrested, failed to appear for court (imagine that) and you now have warrants out for you! Think of the implications and the cost and mental duress in trying to clear your good name!

 

Some facts about Identity Theft

The FTC statistics show that there were over 10 million Victims of Identity Theft that reported the crime to them last year. These were just the people that realized that they had been victims of this growing crime.

Every 79 seconds, a thief steals someone’s Identity

FTC stats show that 1 in 40 children will become a ID Theft vicitm this year and that Child ID theft is the fastest growing crime.

The Identity Theft Resource Center reported 662 Company Breaches affecting over 16 Million consumers records in 2012 BEFORE the 2013 breaches!

The FTC estimates that the average victim of Identity Theft will spend over 200 hours and $2,000 to remove the fraudulent accounts.

While the FTC has the Identity Theft Forms online they do not offer any assistance in clearing up your information.

A “Fresh” Identity file has a current street value on the black market of $1,000.00

 

How do you protect yourself?

DO NOT EVER as a habit carry your Social Security Card around with you!

Avoid giving personal information over the phone until you verify that the person on the other end of the phone is who they say they are, and what purpose the information that they are requesting from you is going to be used for!

If you are on a wireless server make sure that your Laptop or Smart Phone is on a secured network and has the proper firewalls.

If your credit card has a “Smart Chip” make sure that you carry it in a metal wallet.

Make sure that any online site that you visit has Https encryption.

Check your Credit Accounts EVERY month as well as your bank statements. If for any reason a bill does not arrive on or around the same time every month check up on it!

Any addresses being reported on your Credit Report that you do not know may indicate that your Identity is being used by someone else!

You can sign up with a credit monitoring service such as Free Credit Report.com or Annual Credit Report .com as a consumer and check your credit on a daily basis if you wish without it counting as an inquiry. The inquiries that affect your score are the ones that appear when a lender reviews your report.

SHRED SHRED SHRED! Any documents or unnecessary paperwork that you do not need to keep for legal, tax or proof of receipt Shred! Never store ANY documentation with your personal information in an unsecured location.

You may also wish to ” OPT OUT” with the 3 Credit Bureaus, Equifax,Experian and Trans Union. What “Opt Out” does is it stops the unsolicited offers for credit that come in the mail.

If you live in a rural area where your mailbox is on the end of a road with other neighbors ( and a thief’s jackpot…more to steal) or somewhere else that your mailbox is unsecured you may wish to get a post office box.

 

What to do if you are a victim?

Fill out the FTC Identity Theft Form and have the Affidavit notarized

Make a Police Report

Send in the information to the 3 Credit Bureaus as well as the Credit Furnishers who are reporting on your credit report.

Also ask the Bureaus to put a “Freeze” on opening any new accounts.

By law the credit accounts and any collections that were a result of the Identity Theft must be removed from your credit report. However many companies fail to abide by the law. If any of the creditors fail to remove your Identity Theft I would strongly suggest that you get legal advice from a law firm that practices in this area of the law.