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2008 Identity Theft Statistics and Several Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
Recent statistics on identity theft and what identity theft exactly is.
It has been said that identity theft is the largest white-collar crime in US history. It was reported by the Federal Trade Commission that “1 in 6 Americans will be the victim of identity theft this year alone. Over the past twelve months, 9.93 million people have experienced some type of identity theft crime committed against them Victims spend an average of $1,200 in out-of-pocket expenses and an average of 175 hours in your efforts to fix the many problems caused by identity thieves.” Criminal identity theft occurs when an imposter provides another person’s name and personal information such as a driver’s license, date of birth, or Social Security Number (SSN) in order to get a job, housing, money , goods or other services. Or the imposter can present a counterfeit license or ID containing another person’s data. There are 5 different types of identity theft and most people don’t know them all!
The five types of identity theft
1. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES- Identity thieves could get a driver’s license in your name and rack up fines in your name, and they 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 business purposes and you could get your tax bill. Many illegal immigrants are buying many American names and SSNs. There are now 11 million illegal aliens in USA Today. Most of them work under someone else’s name and birth certificate. They could file the taxes in your name and get your immediate refund online.
3. MEDICAL INFORMATION BUREAU – an identity thief could use your personal information to get prescriptions or medical care that reduces your available benefits. This area of identity theft is growing rapidly as more and more people are unable to afford health insurance. They could do an AIDS test in your name which would end up in the MIB.
4. IDENTITY CRIMINAL: An identity thief could use your information to escape fines or jail time. You may 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 get money, goods or services leaving your account. They may rent a car in your name and not return it. They could buy vehicles, real estate, etc.
How to avoid being a victim of fraud or identity theft
First, every household needs a paper shredder, you need to buy one if you don’t have one. “Dumpster diving” is an older method, but it’s still the first way criminals get our information. The shredder will help eliminate the amount of information thieves can get out of your trash. Second, get up-to-date anti-spy or anti-theft software for your computer. Outdated software could compromise much of what you hold dear. Also, never give out personal information over the phone. How can you tell someone is who they say they are, if they’re on the phone. Finally, invest in identity theft protection and recovery insurance. Many companies only offer tracking of your financial identity and only alert you to the activity on your credit report. Remember that tracking is not the cure for identity theft, because you were still a victim! Identity Theft Protection and Recovery is the only answer to this problem! Simply put, monitoring will only alert you to the problem. In most cases the amount of the fraud exceeds thousands of dollars. So without a lawyer, most financial institutions are hesitant to simply remove the charges. Which could take weeks, months or even years to fight alone! So if you have an identity theft problem, now you have a legal problem. Restoration is the only solution to identity theft!
3. How do thieves obtain personal information?
1. Dumpster diving: Thieves will steal your information from paperwork that hasn’t been disposed of properly. They might be digging through the trash, company dumpsters, or even the city dump for personal information.
2. Phishing and Pretexting: These are similar methods of identity theft. Pretexting is where a person posing as being with a legitimate company, such as 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 that the thief will email you instead of calling you.
3. Shoulder Surfing – This is where the thief will look over your shoulder when transacting, such as at an ATM. They may even use devices such as cell phones to register you without your knowledge.
4. Social Networking Websites: While most adults are careful about the information they post on sites like MySpace, several teens and even some unsuspecting adults put themselves at risk of identity theft every day. 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: People who access your music files also have access to other files on your computer.
6. Fake job postings – Thieves will post fake job postings and make you fill out an application, including your Social Security number.
7. Lotteries or fake lotteries: These offers are usually sent by email and claim that you won the Canadian lottery or other lotteries that you never actually participated in.
8. Hacking: If your computer is not properly protected, a hacker can access all the information you have stored. Hackers also gain information by hacking into organizations’ computer systems to obtain large amounts of information at once.
9. Stealing Mail: This is similar to dumpster diving, except the thieves will actually steal your mail straight 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 is true when you lose your personal items.
11. Working in your home: This could be one of the most invasive ways to get information. Contractors or other workers can find and use account numbers or other information that you have in plain view.
12. Change 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 may ask for your pre-approved credit card offers.
13. Copying Information During Transactions: Employees of rogue companies sometimes steal your credit card information while processing transactions. They can do this when you are in the company or when you give your information over the phone.
14. Credit Report: Thieves can pose as a prospective employer or landlord to get a copy of your credit report. They can find out a lot of your information this way.
15. RFID Reading – RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID tags can be found on some credit cards and other types of cards. Thieves build RFID readers that, if they’re in proper range, can extract the information from your card. Whether it’s phone, internet, wallet theft, dumpster diving, or a company you trust mishandling your personal information, these thieves are getting more creative by the day!
4. Medical identity theft can be a person’s worst nightmare.
Imagine applying for the job of a lifetime and you can’t get it because someone used your social security number. Have an infectious disease treated on your behalf. Or even worse, a diabetic steals your insurance information and uses it. If you have been hospitalized and unable to speak… then the right or wrong medical information in your file could mean 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 revoked in 2005, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But as the push towards electronic health records gains momentum, privacy experts fear these numbers could grow substantially. They fear that as doctors and hospitals transition from medical records to electronic medical records (EMR), as they’re called, it could become easier for people to gain unauthorized access to sensitive patient information at scale. In addition, Microsoft, Revolution Health and Google announced in 2008 that they are 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 across the country.
5. Is it possible for someone to obtain information and use it for child identity theft?
Yes, if the thieves get a child’s social security number anything is possible. The date of birth has just been changed by thieves. Thieves like to target children because their credit files are intact and hardly ever checked. As parents, we don’t even think about checking it out. 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.
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