As the quickest growing crime in America, identity theft affects approximately 7 –10 million people every single year.
Simply put, identity theft is the act of using someone else’s personal information, or their actual identity for personal gain. Frighteningly it happens without you even knowing it and once you have become aware of it, in most cases the damage has already been done.
Types of Identity Theft
Although there are many different methods that one can utilize to rip someone off in an identity theft type scam, there are really only two basic types of actual identity theft.
The first of these is generally the easiest and most basic way for thieves to achieve their objective. An example of Account takeover is when a thief gets hold of your actual physical credit card, or perhaps just the card number and expiry date, using it to purchase services or products. This works out extremely well for the thief, as the credit card owner doesn’t usually notice the additional purchases until they either receive their monthly statement in the mail or have attempted to use the card and found that it has reached the maximum limit allowed.
The second type of identity theft is called Application fraud, or what is otherwise known as “true name fraud”. In order for a thief to be successful at application fraud, they must have access to a good deal of your personal information such as your Social Security Number (SSN), full name, address, place of work, salary, driver’s license number, date of birth etc. Of course not all of these pieces of information would be necessary for a thief to get away with application fraud but certainly a combination of some of the above would be required.
It Can Affect Anyone
Like many, you may assume that identity theft only happens to those people who might be a bit more careless when it comes to safeguarding personal information. Or perhaps you are of the mindset that because you don’t really have a lot of money in your personal account or don’t have credit cards with large spending limits, that identity theft thieves wouldn’t necessarily target someone like yourself. Well, make no mistake about it; identity theft can happen to anyone, including you! Basically, if you have an identity (and we hope that you do) then you are susceptible.
The size of your financial worth does not matter, nor whether you rent or own your home, nor whether you have exceptional credit or bad. The fact is still this, if you are reading this right now then you have an identity and because of which you are certain to have one, if not many of the following: a name, a bank account, a credit card, a telephone, a SSN, a job, a birth date, an email and internet account, a mailbox, an address, and the list goes on and on. And I hate to break this to you my friend but here’s my point, it only takes one of the above pieces of information to fall into the wrong hands and you too, like millions of others can become a victim of identity theft.
Not As Difficult As You Think
Still think it’s not that easy for someone to get your personal information? Well let’s not be naïve about this, it’s not as difficult as you think it is. Take a moment to think about all of the companies, organizations, businesses and online sites that might have access to ANY of your personal information. Think about all of the people whose hands your mail at home or at work must pass through before it reaches its intended destination.
Think about all of that extremely personal information you include on your resume when you’re job hunting and that you will send it out to who knows how many companies? Your complete work history, name, contact information and possibly references are all included in your resume! What about where you work now? They have access to more of your personal information than even what your spouse or parents might have! Now think about all of the people who your employer passes that information onto, such as the insurance company, and not only your own bank but their bank as well, and let’s not forget the company that processes payroll! The list is endless and in just a little while we will discuss all the ways in which you can protect yourself against identity theft. For now however, let’s take a look at all of the methods in which thieves might use to access your personal information.