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
- 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
& Fraud - from the FDIC
Identity Theft Updates - also from the FDIC