The Menace of Identity Theft

In the modern world, the crime of identity theft, or fraud, goes beyond the understanding of human mind! It can happen to anyone at anytime in any place of the world. It is a crime of the century with millions of people falling victims each year! It refers to the impersonation of criminals via careful adaptation of bank account numbers, debit/credit card numbers or driver’s license stealthily. Criminals use this personal information and spend the victim’s money before it is known. Not only this, the impersonator can misuse your confidential documents according to his own sweet will!

Research indicates that the criminal operation pattern shows a primary type of identity theft. In account information, as mentioned above, the fraudulent gets your credit account information and purchases via your credit card. He often opens new bank account on your name using your SSN; this you will never know till you receive the bank statement showing “payment due.” Though the law protects the victim where he is not liable to pay any part of the loss, he certainly gets a bad credit report! It could be months or even years for you to recover financial loss, depending on the extent of damage.

When we hear about the crime of identity theft, senior citizens come to our mind as the likely targets. But the recent Survey Report revealed that youngsters in the age group of 18-29 were the greatest victims. The youth were the most vulnerable and comprised about 31% of the total theft! This may be because the younger people are more carefree and not interested to protect their identification.

To prevent identity thieves from getting access to your personal information, some precautionary steps can be taken. Thieves usually indulge in dumpster probing where trash bins are searched for credit cards, loan applications, documents and other sensitive information. Don’t keep your mailbox unlocked from where the thief can easily steal newly issued credit cards and bank statements. Your investment reports and insurance statements are quite vulnerable in this way.

Be careful at ATMs and phone booths from where the identity thieves are always on a look out for your PIN numbers. It is evident now that they pose as loan-sanctioning officer or insurance agent to obtain your personal information. If you are computer user for the most part of the day, you will also notice emails that seem to be just like the ones you receive from your bank! Let spam filter work for you and delete those emails. Used computer or refurbished laptops or new branded model, whatever you prefer to use, you must check your credit report twice for early detection of any fraudulent activity on your card. If it happens, it is our duty to report to the concerned authorities immediately.

When you buy a cheap computer or refurbished laptop, or sell your used computer make sure to delete all files, as it is said, “prevention is better than a cure,” it is well applied in this matter too.