Identity Theft Protection, Fraud Prevention – Identity Theft Resource #identity #theft #protection, #identity #fraud #prevention,

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Four Things You Need to Know About Identity Theft

Identity theft continues to plague U.S. citizens across all income levels, genders, races, ages, and occupations. While the continued rise in incidents has led to greater consumer interest in identity theft prevention and protection measures, identity thieves still manage to find new ways to uncover personal information and use it to their advantage and their victims detriment.

The most recent statistics from Javelin Strategy Research indicate that more than 11 million American consumers were victimized by identity fraud in 2009, an increase of more than one million people from 2008.* Essentially, one out of every 27 people in this country in 2009 had their personal information used by others to engage in fraudulent transactions or to receive services illegally and that rate shows no signs of abating.

Here are four things you need to know about identity theft and identity fraud:

  1. Identity theft is a stepping-stone to identity fraud. Identity theft occurs when someone gains unauthorized access to someone else s personal information. Here are just a few ways in which someone s personal data can wind up in the hands of an identity thief:
    • A thief steals a victim s wallet or purse.
    • A thief copies a consumer s credit card while ringing up a transaction.
    • A thief hacks into a corporate or institutional database and steals information about multiple people or accounts.
    • A victim is duped into entering information into a fake website or responding to a phishing e-mail.
    • A laptop computer containing personally identifying information is left unprotected in a public area.

Identity fraud occurs when that stolen information is used to benefit the thief in some way. The thief may:

  • Make unauthorized charges to the victim s credit card account;
  • Drain funds from the victim s bank account;
  • Use the victim s Social Security number to open new accounts in the victim s name;
  • Use the victim s information to receive healthcare or other services in the victim s name; or
  • Take advantage of the victim s information in a variety of other ways.

Once a thief has a victim s information, the victim can face a long and difficult struggle, not only to catch the thief but also to restore the victim s identity to its pre-theft status. That s why it s so important to implement identity theft prevention and protection measures before a theft occurs.

Identity theft can victimize anyone. Legend has it that Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber in the first half of the 20th century, was once asked why he robbed banks. Because that s where the money is, he was reported to reply.

Identity thieves in the 21st century often follow the same logic. In addition to targeting gullible marks through phishing e-mails and pharming websites, identity thieves go after the big fish celebrities and other public figures who presumably have money to burn, including (but not limited to) Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg and others.

Clearly, the ability to amass a lot of money and/or attention offers no protection against identity theft.

  • Most identity theft crimes are committed by someone the victim knows. It s difficult to prevent identity theft when a parent can access a child s (or spouse s) Social Security number and use it to create fake accounts.
  • Early detection of identity theft leads to better outcomes. The sooner you can detect and respond to the warning signs of identity theft, the more likely you are to protect your assets and your name. While the zero-liability fraud protections instituted by most credit card issuers have reduced the number of people paying out-of-pocket for identity fraud, the average out-of-pocket cost for those who do pay something is $373, and it takes the average victim 21 hours to resolve the identity theft issue.*
  • The Federal Trade Commission urges consumers to monitor their financial accounts. because the best identity theft protection measure is early detection.

    However, credit monitoring can t catch all of the warning signs of identity theft. For even stronger identity theft/fraud prevention and protection, consumers should strongly consider an identity theft protection program that tracks a much wider range of their personal data, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, affiliations, and more.

    * 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report: Consumer Version, Javelin Strategy Research, February 2010


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