Sunday, March 02, 2008

Identity Theft – It could happen to you

In 2006 9.9 million people in the United States were victims of identity theft at a cost of $5 billion dollars. It is the fastest growing crime in America. The numbers could be even higher as identity theft is reported differently in different areas.

"Identity theft is a criminal offense. It occurs when a person knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit or to aid or abet any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law."
- Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 18 USC 1028(a)(7)

Key pieces of personal information are fraudulently obtained and used to steal the assets of the victim or to defraud others. Bank accounts can be drained. Credit cards maxed out and new credit accounts established. And yes, it can happen to you. Credit card protection is important. See Lifelock Reviews for more information.

It can start with pilfered mail, a computer virus that opens a backdoor to information on your hard drive, a lost wallet, phishing, or going through trash to find thrown out correspondence.

How does someone get away with identity theft? Here's an example: The criminal dumpster dives in your trash looking for bank statements, credit card statements, and records from financial institutions. If they find a bank statement they request a change of address for your bank account. The criminal orders new checks for your checking account and has them sent to the new address. They then write checks and drain the account. Many accounts are protected by overdraft credit, or can make an automatic withdrawal from a savings account, making the situation worse. You won't even become aware of the incident until you're contacted by someone you wrote a check to and it doesn't clear for insufficient funds. Life lock reviews gives you credit card protection.

If you've thrown out one of the pre-approved applications for a credit card the criminal simply completes the application and uses a new address for the cards to be sent to.


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