What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a serious problem that can have a lasting impact on your finances and credit. It can even prevent you from gaining employment.
Worse, those committing Identity theft can use your identity and accrue a criminal record in your name.
And you may not even be aware of it until it’s too late.
More and more people are falling victim to identity theft. Digital access to personal data has created quite a convenience for good and bad.
Cyber criminals have learned how to gain access to random peoples’ valuable personal information and use that data for their financial gain.
Identity theft is a crime where someone obtains another person’s personal information, such as their name, date of birth, Social Security number, or credit card number, in order to commit fraud.
Identity theft can lead to many problems for the victim, including fraudulent charges on your credit card, unauthorized loans created in your name, and damage to your credit report. In some cases, identity theft can even lead to arrest.
It occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Serious problems from Identity Theft are becoming more common as more people conduct their lives and transactions online and with digital apps.
The Dangers of Identity Theft
There are many dangers and consequences from Identity Theft.
Identity theft is a serious problem that can have a lasting impact on your life.
It can also be difficult to recover from identity theft.
It can lead to long-term financial losses, damage to your credit score, and even identity fraud.
Identity thieves may use your information to open new accounts in your name and accrue charges on those accounts.
They may also take out loans in your name and default on those loans, leaving you with the debt.
This includes getting personal loans in your name. The amounts don’t have to be huge. Loan amounts could be under $1000 or even up to $5,000. Depending, they may attempt to go as high as they can to 6-figures. Especially if they know your current credit score supports large loans.
Auto loans are common ways criminals seek to commit identity theft.
Getting an auto loan in your name enables them to quickly obtain a vehicle they do not intend to continue making payments on and they can also go anywhere they want in the vehicle they have obtained – in your name. Scary thought!
Worse- identity theft criminals can also obtain a mortgage loan in your name. Those loans tend to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Now you may be thinking that you will then know where they are located then if they have a mortgage for a home or commercial property. But this may not be the case. Some obtain the mortgage for more than the purchase price.
Say a mortgage is obtained for $300,000. They elect to purchase a home for $100,000. That means they could use the extra funds to “improve” the home. But they don’t actually. They take the extra money and run.
Further, if your state has no squatter laws, you may not be able to take possession of the property.
Identity theft results in major losses not to mention the court costs to fight all this.
Identity theft can also result in criminal charges being filed in your name. This is more than cloning your driver’s license.
This can include creating a fake identity card with your information and likeness. This identification card is then used when they get arrested.
You get the blame for criminal activity conducted by them. Worse yet- because Law Enforcement has your name, date of birth (DOB), address and basic information, they go after YOU.
Fighting this wrong identity is even a more embarrassing pain in the side. Especially if your current employer learns you have a criminal record. Even if it is not you whom committed the crimes.
Or you may be applying for employment and are denied employment because of your undetermined criminal record.
Identity theft can have a major financial impact on victims. It can damage your credit rating and make it difficult to get loans, credit cards, or insurance. Identity theft can also cost you time and money to fix the problems that identity thieves have created.
Identity theft can be a serious situation that is time consuming to repair.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
There are steps you can take to protect yourself. It is important to be aware of the dangers of identity theft and take steps to protect yourself.
By being aware of the dangers of identity theft and taking precautions, you can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Here are some things you should know about identity theft and how to protect yourself.
First, never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know.
Second, be cautious about how you dispose of personal information. Shredding documents that contain personal information is one way to help protect yourself.
Third, use caution to prevent exposing your personal information on the internet and being diligent about monitoring your credit report.
Fourth, use a postal box at the post office for all your mail. Especially financial documents and mail with personal identifying information. Many post offices now permit 24-hour access to mailboxes.
Finally, keep an eye on your credit report for suspicious activity. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every year. Checking your credit report regularly can help you catch identity theft early.
There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from identity theft, such as not sharing your personal information online and being vigilant about monitoring your credit report monthly.
You can also read: 14 Steps to Protect Your Credit
Monitor Your Credit
The most important part of protecting your credit is by monitoring your credit. Your credit is critical when determining if you may be eligible to obtain a loan.
You can do the basic part yourself by checking your credit with the 3 main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
You could also use one or two of the most popular credit monitoring apps like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
Credit is also an important part of protecting your identity. Many types of protection including identity theft, credit card fraud and bank account fraud including credit unions, can be detected by monitoring your credit report.
Credit monitoring services are available from companies such as Lifelock, Complete ID, IdentityForce, ID Watchdog, or PrivacyGuard.
Credit monitoring services vary with services and pricing. Review at least three credit monitoring services to determine which may be the best for you and your family.
What to do if You are a Victim of Identity Theft
If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly to minimize the damage.
Taking these steps can help to minimize the damage caused by identity theft.
First, contact the credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will make it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.
Contact each of the three main credit bureaus individually:
Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or Equifax.com.
Experian: Call 888‑397‑3742 or Experian.com.
TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or TransUnion.com
Second, file a police report with your local police department. This can be helpful in resolving any financial problems that identity thieves have created.
The credit bureaus will also need copies of the police reports for their files to help you correct any wrongdoing with your credit.
Finally, close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Identity theft is a serious problem that can have major financial and legal repercussions for victims.
It is important to be aware of the dangers of identity theft and take steps to protect yourself.
The cyber criminals don’t care for you and have no remorse for using your data for their personal gain.
Protecting your personal, private and financial information has become critical.
If you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly and report the crime.
By taking these precautions, you can help to minimize the damage caused by identity theft.
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