Identity theft happens when a criminal obtains and uses someone’s private information then uses that information to, in a sense, becomes that person for some time. Identity theft can happen in many ways such as by someone utilizing your social security number, checks, credit cards, driver’s license and a lot more.
Identity theft is an increasing situation for many. Shown frequently in news reports and shows like Dateline, identity theft is an upsetting matter and can cause the victim all sorts of emotional discomfort and financial trouble. Identity theft can destroy someone’s life for many months, even years. The most common result is destruction of credit.
The most common cases of identity theft are credit card and check fraud. Some other cases that can occur are illegal immigration, blackmail, crime or just attacking an individual for revenge. People often get credit cards and open bank accounts in the victim’s name and buy all kinds of expensive merchandise they can either keep or sell for cash. In extreme cases, loans can be taken out for thousands of dollars and the identity thief can simply disappear. Luckily, photo identification is necessary for high priced transactions and loans most of the time.
Credit isn’t the only thing that can be destroyed by identity theft. Many times, criminals will use your personal information to get a driver’s license because they are wanted or plan to commit a crime. If these criminals rent a car that is used in a crime, guess who is the first suspect? That’s right, it’s YOU. By the time you even realize this has happened, your name and picture might be all over the news. This can ruin your reputation in your community or even the entire country. Even when it is proved you had absolutely nothing to do with the crime, people will still associate you with that particular event.
Fortunately, you will find many helpful ideas you can use to be more secure. By no means will they be completely effective, but they will make you less likely to be a random victim.
1. Documents are the greatest problem for most of us. From bank statement to medical bills, you receive mail constantly that’s full of your personal information. If at all possible, go eco-friendly and obtain your debts sent via email. A lot of companies will be sending an email that the statement is ready and your login to actually look at your bill. For everything else, make sure shred that has your personal info on it. This is sometimes a daunting task to do manually so an electrical shredder is the best way to go.
2. In addition to documents, there are lots of things that needs to be common knowledge but could be overlooked. Never carry your checkbook, birth certificate, or social security card in your wallet or purse.
3. Checks are absolutely horrible. They not only indicate your personal information, they also have your bank account number and routing number right there. Several people even take their social security number written on the check!! DO NOT do that.
A bit of common sense and knowledge would go a long way to safeguarding you from identity theft.
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