What is ID Theft?

We hear the term on the news, on commercials, but what is it really? Well, if you want to find out, then you are in the right place because we have made this article just to explain to people the real meaning of ID theft. In this article, you will not only find what is ID theft, but we will give you examples that will help you to realize if you were a victim of one. 

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ID theft occurs when someone pretends to be you in order to make purchases that they don’t intend to pay for. The ID thief has essentially stolen your identity for fraudulent purposes. You will be surprised to see how these thieves get your information and how do they use it in their advantage. After reading this article, you will know exactly what to do and how to avoid being a victim of a ID theft.  

How do they steal my identity?

By getting their hands on important private information. Your social security number, your address and phone number, bank account and credit card numbers are common items used to fabricate a credit identity. 

Credit card and ATM receipts, stolen or lost personal checks also contain information that is useful to the potential ID thief.  

Even your paycheck stub can be used to solicit short term loans and establish accounts with banks and credit card companies. 

High tech ID thieves use emails and Trojan programs hidden in your computer to try and get at your account numbers, passwords, pins and other personal information. 

Who can be a victim?

The ‘it can’t happen to me’ syndrome is, a natural part of human nature. We all like to think that bad things happen to ‘the other guy’. 

Anyone can be a victim. You don’t have to be wealthy or have a five star credit rating. As long as your personal information can be used to make a purchase or negotiate a credit card or a loan, you are a potential target. 

What can ID theft do to me?

Primarily it can ruin your credit, The ID thief will use your ID to make purchases which will be left unpaid, take out loans which will default, and make other obligations which will be left unfulfilled. This is the recipe for bad credit. 

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In addition, you will spend time and money trying to straighten the mess out. Even though creditors are aware of ID theft and becoming more willing to work with the victim, you still have to prove that you are not the perpetrator. They extended the credit in good faith and they want their money back. 

How can I tell if someone is using my ID?

Many people don’t find out that they are ID theft victims until the creditors begin calling and writing for their money. By then, it is too late to easily fix the problem. 

You can be proactive and make sure that you are not the target of credit fraud. 

  • Watch your mail for unusual correspondence from credit card companies and other financial institutions. This may be a sign that someone is opening an account in your name using your regular billing address. 
  • Examine your account statements regularly. 

Don’t just throw them in the desk drawer. Your bank and credit card companies send you that information so that you can confirm any errors or omissions. Take advantage of this service. 

Look for any unexplained activity, and if you find any, report it at once. If you have access to on line statements, you can check more often. 

  • Subscribe to a credit reporting service. 

Checking your mail and account statements will only detect fraud using your established accounts and billing address. But ID thieves often open new accounts with a different billing address. You might not hear about them until the creditor hires a skip trace service to track you down. By then, the creditors are preparing to take legal action, and you are in a mess of trouble.
Close up of thief's hand in black glove stealing driver's license, studio shot

Credit reports will show nearly all new account information associated with your credit history. By getting these reports quarterly or even monthly, you can easily spot fraudulent activities in your accounts. 

Pay special attention to short term loans, also known as payday loans. These types of loans require minimal credit checks to establish, and can run up bills in the thousands of dollars. 

Credit reports will also show attempts at establishing credit, as well as a list of the times anyone, including yourself, ran a credit report on you.Since the potential creditors are listed on the report, this is very valuable information. This gives you a tangible point of contact. 

  • Contract with a reputable credit recovery and protection system. They can help you sort out the mess once credit fraud has been detected. 

ID Theft is a big and a growing problem. Law enforcement agencies are gearing up to fight this new kind of crime, but they by necessity are behind the curve, as they can only respond to what new things criminals are already doing. 

And even though creditors are more understanding about credit fraud, their primary responsibility is to their own organization. 

Like any disease, your best hope to protect yourself from this threat is prevention and early detection. Be careful with your records, monitor your credit and respond quickly to any unusual activity.