Avoiding Identity Theft
Identity Theft - a crime that involves someone other than you using your personal information to open credit cards, take loans, or take over your bank accounts, all while pretending to be you.
Imagine this - someone manages to steal your social security number and birthdate. Perhaps you lost a wallet or purse. Perhaps you provided this information to a website that was actually fraudulent. (See Phishing.) Perhaps your computer got a virus that enabled a criminal to obtain your personal information. No matter how they got the information, they used it to:
- Open credit cards in your name, and start making purchases.
- Take out bank loans.
- Rent automobiles or other equipment.
- Change your address with your Bank so you don't receive your statements, which makes it harder to discover the problem.
- Obtain drivers licenses and other government identification or certifications.
- Gain access to your bank accounts and remove all available funds.
- and so forth.....
In all of these cases, the theft of your identification is eventually discovered, but not before creating large-scale problems that you will spend countless hours solving. Your credit report may even be ruined for a time, until you are able to unravel and resolve the damage.
The links below provide excellent resources to helping prevent identity theft in the first place, or dealing with the aftermath of identity theft.
Fighting Identity Theft - from the Federal Trade Commission
Protecting Your Identity - also from the Federal Trade Commission
Identity Theft & Fraud - from the FDIC
Identity Theft Updates - also from the FDIC