Imagine your reaction if you applied for a car loan or credit card and were declined because of an unpaid loan that you were not aware existed? Or, if you used your debit or ATM card and you were declined because money was not in your account? Most people would feel that situations such as these are there worst nightmares coming true. Unfortunately situations such as these happen everyday as a result of identity theft and credit fraud. And unless you take proper precautions, you can also be a victim of one of the fastest growing crimes.
Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing criminal activities and the results can cost consumers billions of dollars every year. Identity Theft is the act of stealing personal information that can be used for fraudulent purposes. Information such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, account numbers and personal identification numbers if in the hands of criminals can result in criminals taking out loans, withdrawing money and making other illegal transactions that can drain individuals savings and potentially ruin consumers credit ranking.
Once a criminal has obtained personal financial information, it is too late. Criminals if undetected can apply for credit, obtain new credit cards and withdraw money in a short period of time before it is detected. However, the best way to combat Identity Theft is to prevent it. Some of the best ways to prevent Identity Theft is to monitor your accounts and credit report, never leave account numbers and other information in plain site, watch for missing statements and protecting your personal identification number. These are just a few ways to prevent being a victim of ID Theft.
Reporting ID Theft
You have found out that you have been a victim of Identity Theft - now what do you do? Depending on the extent and scope of the theft, it could be a local crime that can be handled by the local police. However, if fraud was committed or if the Internet was part of the ID Theft it could be a national or international criminal investigation. However, the most important thing is that once you have discovered that you have been a victim of a theft, to report it immediately.
Uses of Stolen IDs
If you have left personal financial information in an accessible spot, or if your information was hacked or stolen form a third party, your financial future could be in jeopardy. Once your information has been stolen by criminals, they can have dozens of uses of the information. These uses range from applying for credit cards using your name and financial information to using existing credit cards to purchase items. If the crimals have access to your banking information, you may be at risk of having money transferred from your account to unknown recipients.
Another growing problem along with Identity Theft is that of credit fraud. Credit fraud can occur when information such as name, address, date of birth and social security number is stolen. From this information, criminals can use your identity to get credit which can be used for criminal activity. Another case of credit fraud can occur when your credit card account number is stolen. From this information, criminals can create new cards or use them for online transactions, all without the victims knowledge.
Identity Theft Resources
There are a number of helpful resources available to understand more about Identity Theft and Credit Fraud. With information and resources provided in this page you can learn more about the dangers of Identity Theft, how to prevent being a victim and what to do in the event of becoming a victim.