Recent identity theft statistics and exactly what identity theft is.
It has been said that identity theft is the largest white collar crime in the history of the United States. It’s been reported by the Federal Trade Commission that, “1 in 6 Americans will be a victim of identity theft this year alone. In the last twelve months 9.93 million people have had some type of identity theft crime committed against them. Victims spend on average $1,200 in out-of-pocket expenses and an average of 175 hours in your efforts to resolve the many problems caused by identity thieves.” Criminal identity theft occurs when an imposter gives another person’s name and personal information such as a drivers’ license, date of birth, or Social Security number (SSN) to obtain a job, housing, money, goods, or other services. Or the imposter may present to a counterfeit license or form of ID containing another person’s data. There are 5 different types of identity theft and most people are unaware of all of them!
The five types of identity theft
1. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES- Identity thieves could obtain a drivers license in your name and accumulate traffic tickets in your name, and could possibly get a DUI under your license and not show up in court.
2. SOCIAL SECURITY- an identity thief could use your social security number for employment purposes and you could get the tax bill. Many illegal aliens are buying many americans name and SSN. There are now 11 million illegal aliens in USA Today. Most of them are working under some one else’s name and birth certificate. They could file taxes under your name and get the instant on line refund.
3. MEDICAL INFORMATION BUREAU- an identity thief could use your personal information to obtain prescriptions or medical help which reduce your available benefits. This area of ID THEFT is growing rapidly as more and more people are unable to afford health insurance. They could get an aids test in your name which would go into the MIB.
4. CRIMINAL IDENTITY- an identity thief could use your information to escape fines or jail. You could find that you have a criminal record for bad checks, shoplifting, pornography, prostitution etc.
5. FINANCIAL IDENTITY – an identity thief could use your information to obtain money, goods or services leaving you with the bill. They could lease a car hi your name and not return it. They could purchase vehicles, real estate, etc.
How to help avoid being a victim of fraud or identity theft
First, every household needs a shredder, you need to purchase one if you don’t have it. “Dumpster diving”, is a older method, but it’s still the 1# way criminals get our information. The shredder will help eliminate the amount of information thieves can get from your garbage. Secondly, get updated anti-spy, or anti-theft software for your computer. Out dated software could compromise a lot of what you hold dear. Also, never give out personal information over the phone. How can you tell that someone is who they say they are, if it is over the phone. Lastly, invest in some identity theft protection and restoration insurance. Many companies only offer to monitor your financial identity, and only alert you of activity on your credit report. Remember that monitoring is not the cure to identity theft, because you still have been a victim! Identity theft protection and restoration is the only answer to this problem! Simply put, monitoring will only alert you of the problem. In most cases the amount of the fraud is in excess of thousands of dollars. So without a lawyer most financial institutions are hesitant to just remove the charges. Which could take weeks, months, or even years to fight on your own! So if you have an identity theft problem, you now have a legal problem. Restoration is the only solution to identity theft!
3. What are ways the thieves get personal information?
1. Dumpster diving- Thieves will steal your information from paperwork that hasn’t been properly disposed of. They may dig through your trash, company dumpsters, or even the city dump looking for personal information.
2. Phishing and Pretexting- These are similar methods of identity theft. Pretexting is where a person pretending to be with a legitimate company, like your insurance company, will call and try to get you to verify your account numbers or even your SSN. Phishing is basically the same except the thief will send you an email instead of calling you.
3. Shoulder surfing- This is where the thief will look over your shoulder when making transactions, at the ATM for example. They may even use devices like cell phones to record you without your knowledge.
4. Social Network Websites- While most adults are careful about the information they post on sites like MySpace, several teenagers and even some unknowing adults put them selves at risk of identity theft everyday. Identity thieves find names, addresses, and even birthdates on popular sites and use them to commit identity fraud.
5. File Sharing or Peer to Peer Software- The people accessing your music files also have access to other files on your computer.
6. Bogus Job Offers- Thieves will place fake employment ads and get you to fill out an application, including your social security number.
7. Fake sweepstakes or lotteries- These offers are usually sent by email and claim that you’ve won the Canadian lottery or some other sweepstakes that you’ve never actually entered.
8. Hacking- If you’re computer isn’t properly secured, a hacker can get access to all of the information you have stored. Hackers also get information by hacking the computer systems of organizations to get large quantities of information at once.
9. Stealing mail- This is similar to dumpster diving, except the thieves will actually steal your mail directly from your mailbox. They steal bank statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc.
10. Lost or stolen personal items- It’s pretty obvious how thieves steal your identity by stealing your wallet, PDA, or laptop. The same goes when you lose your personal items.
11. Working in your home- This may be one of the most invasive ways to get information. Contractors or other workers may find and use account numbers or other information you have out in plain view.
12. Changing your address- The thief will often forge your signature to have your mail forwarded to another address. They will then get information from your bank statements, or they may apply for your pre-approved credit card offers.
13. Copying information during transactions- Dishonest company employees will sometimes steal your credit card information while processing your transactions. They can do this when you’re at the company or when you give your information over the phone.
14. Credit report- Thieves may pose as a potential employer or landlord to get a copy of your credit report. They can find out a lot of your information this way.
15. Reading RFID- RFID stands for radio frequency identification. RFID tags can be found on certain credit cards and other types of cards. Thieves build RFID readers that, if within proper range of you, can get the information off of your card. Whether it be by telephone, internet, wallet theft, dumpster diving, or a company you trusted mishandling your personal information, these thieves are getting more and more creative by the day!
4. Medical Identity Theft can be an individuals worst nightmare.
Imagine applying for the job of a lifetime, and you cannot get it because someone used your social security number. Getting an infectious disease treated in your name. Or worst yet, a diabetic steals your insurance information and uses it. If you were hospitalized and unable to speak…in this case the right or wrong medical information in your chart could be the difference between life and death. Medical identity theft currently accounts for just 3 percent of identity theft crimes, or 249,000 of the estimated 8.3 million people who had their identities lifted in 2005, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But as the push toward electronic medical records gains momentum, privacy experts worry those numbers may grow substantially. They’re concerned that as doctors and hospitals switch from paper records to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), as they’re called, it may become easier for people to gain unauthorized access to sensitive patient information on a large scale. In addition, Microsoft, Revolution Health, and, Google in 2008 have announced they’re developing services that will allow consumers to store their health information online. Consumers may not even know their records have been compromised. This could be a nightmare, and with EMRs medical identity theft will happen more and more all over the country.
5. Is it possible for somebody to get information and use it for child identity theft?
Yes, if thieves get a social security number of a minor anything is possible. The birth date is just changed by the thieves. Thieves like to target children because their credit files are untouched and almost never checked. As parents, we don’t even think to check it. Even before identity theft became so prominent in the 21st century, identity thieves were targeting children. Now that security breaches are so common and hackers can find personal information through phishing, your child’s identity is even easier to steal than ever before.