What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone without your permission fraudulently receives and uses your sensitive information.
Is identity theft a criminal offence?
Identity theft is a serious criminal offence. When someone commits an identity theft by using your name and credit record it may take you months, even years clearing up the confusion. Clearing up an identity theft may prove to be very expensive. The chances are while repairing the mess due to the identity theft, you may lose your job, or lose out on job options, your home and car loans may be turned down and even education loans may be rejected. You may also be arrested for crimes committed by someone else using your identity.
What exactly is stolen in an identity theft?
In an identity theft the thieves fraudulently obtain your name, address, phone numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, driver’s license and social security number (SSN).
How is identity theft committed?
Persons committing identity theft are very resourceful and get information from different sources. One very simple way is by stealing wallets and purses carrying identification and credit cards or by stealing personal information from your home directly. Identity theft may be carried out by persons pretending to be an employer, landlord or any other person who have legal right to your personal information. Identity theft perpetrators may steal records from employers, or bribe an employee having access to the records or even hacking into organization’s computers.
Another identity theft method is by going through your personal or business trash. This is known as “dumpster diving”. Identity theft may be carried out by someone abusing the employer’s trust and accessing credit report information.
Personal information can be obtained by stealing credit and debit card numbers by skimming through the special information storage device that processes these cards. Identity theft is committed by stealing your mail that contain your bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, tax information or new checks. Diverting your mail to another address by filling out a “change of address form” is another way of committing identity theft. Your personal information can be obtained by someone falsely posing as a business person or government official, carrying false identities or papers.
How do they use the information after an identity theft?
After an identity theft the perpetrators can use your credit and debit numbers to make large purchases like computers, televisions, etc. that can be sold later. Persons committing identity theft can make counterfeit checks and debit cards and use up your bank account or open a bank account in your name and write bad checks. The identity thieves can file for bankruptcy under your name to skip paying the debts they have incurred and also use the information to avoid eviction.
Identity theft can be utilized to open a new credit account using all your personal information like name, date of bills, SSN and any non-payment of bills is then reflected on your credit report. Identity theft can be used to get an auto loan in your name, establish phone on wireless service in your name. Identity theft perpetrators can change the mailing address on your credit card account and keep charging your account. You will not be aware of this for sometime as these bills will go to the new address. Another serious consequence of identity theft is when your name is given to the police by the identity thieves, and on release when they do not show up at the court, an arrest warrant will be issued in your name. This leads you into serious trouble.
How do you identify yourself a prey to an identity theft?
You should always be up to date with all your financial records and dealings and be careful with your personal information. Identity theft can be found out by checking on unexplained charges and withdrawals from your account. You can tell an identity theft if you receive calls from debt collectors or companies asking for payments on goods or services not purchased by you. You can tell you are a victim of identity theft when you receive credit cards you did not apply for and also when your credit application is rejected without any cause. Any mail indicating your change of address or not receiving any mail on your correct address will show a cause for identity theft.
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