Identity theft: How to prevent it?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/22/2008 - 10:11

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a pesky event causing lot of harm to a consumer's credit. The feeling that corrodes most is someone else has used my credit and has left all the responsibilities for me. Once the fraudulently opened accounts start appearing on your credit report, it will definitely lower your score because the ID thief is not likely to behave well with your credit.

How ID Theft occurs?

ID thieves take up numerous ways to scam people. It is good for consumers to know how they can get access to our personal information.

  • By stealing or hacking the database of a business house.
  • By stealing your wallet.
  • They can steal your snail mail or email containing your personal information, or submit a change of address form and bypass your mails to their door.
  • They can get your personal information from trash.
  • They can steal your information through fake mails, phone calls and from duplicate sites purposefully build to scam people.
  • They can pull your credit report by camouflaging as employer, creditor or land-lord.

What happens when ID Theft occurs?

The crooks can ruin your credit in a very short time. They can:

  • Open credit card account in your name.
  • Take out bank loan to buy a car.
  • Open a bank account with your information and write a number of bad checks.
  • They may apply for a phone service in your name, obviously the bill will be charged to you.

How can I avoid the scam?

There are few customs that can help you avoid identity theft. Have a glimpse:

  • Do not carry extra credit cards with you that you do not need.
  • Never disclose your SSN to a person who you do not know or send it out over an unsecured media.
  • Keep a watch on your credit report regularly and make it a habit.
  • Periodically check your bank statement.
  • Close the credit cards that you are not interested to use any more.
  • Do not have your SSN printed on your check leafs.
  • You can stop pre-screened credit offers or ask credit reporting agencies to block your date of birth and SSN on your credit report.
  • Do not respond to any email that states unrealistic message for you, like your bank account has been closed or craps like that. If necessary, type the website address of the concerned institution by your own, do not follow the link embedded in the emails.

These are few basic steps that can help you avoid ID theft. Still anyone can be a victim any moment. Scammers are on their way to innovate more and more methods to cheat people. God forbid, if it happens with anybody, following steps can save them from possible damages.

  • File a police report immediately.
  • Inform your bank, credit card company and other financial institutes that you have account with.
  • Contact credit bureaus to place a fraud alert. By doing so, you receive an alert from the bureaus whenever some new credit activities are seen in your file.
  • Go through the consumers manual published by FTC on Identity Theft and file your complaint with Federal Trade Commission as well.

Identity theft is basically using another person's confidential information like the social security number, either to obtain a credit card or a loan in the name of the person whose identity is stolen or to rent an house or creating accounts with utility companies like electricity and phones. Now these people use the credit cards and dispose them off and the outstanding amount has to be paid by the person whose identity is stolen. Moreover, if the person whose identity is stolen cannot repay back the debt, it gets reflected in his credit report and lowers his credit score.

Sat, 11/22/2008 - 11:20 Permalink

Social security number and your date of birth are the two most confidential information by which your identity can be stolen. Using this number, the thief can get a credit card or a loan in your name very easily but by providing his address instead of your's so that the credit card reaches his place if it is send by post. They can just do it by informing the credit card company that he has changed the address. However, you can always prevent identity theft by placing fraud alert service with the credit bureaus.

Sat, 11/22/2008 - 11:41 Permalink

The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. There are Web pages that are intended to explain why you need to take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data ­ especially your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data ­ can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense. In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, running up vast debts and committing crimes while using the victims's names. In many cases, a victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 01:43 Permalink

This has got to be the only good thing about bad credit -my identity is worhtless for credit purposes! Yeh!

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 01:57 Permalink

thast been a jole around here for a while and I still have to laugh. Credit is very serious business but you are right who in their right mind would want to steal someones credit that is bad...Work on improving yours then keep it monitored closely. I answered your other post the best I could. Hope you seen it.

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 02:01 Permalink

Keep checking back. I personal messaged someone to check out your post to see if I missed anything. She is really good at knowing what to do and has been down the road before.

Sun, 11/23/2008 - 02:52 Permalink

If you are sure that someone has stolen your husband's social security number then you should immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint with the FTC by visiting their website and filling up the complaint form for identity theft and you will become a registered member of identity theft. Next you should report the theft with the police. If you want you can also call up the FTC at 1-877-438-4338.

Mon, 12/15/2008 - 09:01 Permalink

Yes, if your social security number is stolen then you should definitely file a complaint with the FTC, but at the same time you should immediately place a fraud alert service with the credit bureaus. You need not activate the service separately with each bureau. If you activate the fraud alert service with any of the three bureaus, the other two bureaus are informed automatically. Once you place a fraud alert service, the creditor will call you up if there is any new credit application in your name and then process the application.

Mon, 12/15/2008 - 09:22 Permalink

A social security number that is stolen can cause years worth of damage and ruin a person finacially and quick. You really need to get that fraud alert asap..even if you just think it may happen. Repeort it as Justin said. You should also contact any credit cards you do have and just let them kn ow what is going on. You really need to move on these actions as quickly as possible.

Thu, 12/18/2008 - 00:30 Permalink
Double D (not verified)

To answer your question: How do you prevent identity theft? The answer is that you can't. You can only try to minimize the damages when it happens.
Your personal information is already out there in hundreds of databases. You can shred all you like, place fraud alerts on your credit file, but that will only help you shrink your chances. Identity theft comes in many colors; credit, social security, drivers license, criminal, and medical. Examples: If someone claims they are you and uses your medical insurance benefits, a fraud alert will do you no good. You find out when you go to the hospital, pharmacy or dentist and learn that your benefits have been exhausted or worse you get the bill for a procedure that was done on someone pretending to be you. If someone gets your drivers license and gets a ticket/warrant or commits a crime in your name, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion won't know or care. You're going to jail and have to PROVE it wasn't you. If someone takes a job using your SS# you may only find out when the IRS comes calling for the taxes that weren't paid and guess who owes them? That's right! The Social Security Administration has no device for determining who is who. They see a SS#, not a face or fingerprint.

Sadly, too many people are under the impression that financial theft or credit fraud is identity theft. The facts are that there are multiple ways that your identity can be stolen and misused that can be devastating. Anyone NOT trying protect themselves is living in denial and hoping it won't happen to them. But once it does, the nightmare begins and the costs (financial, physical and emotional) to rectify and recover begin to escalate.

Mon, 01/12/2009 - 07:46 Permalink

I agree with you DD. The fact is it is easy just to put things under a social security number and then leave a person defending themselves. I have actually heard of cases around here where people have went to jail over someone else using their name. They had a guy on the news a few months back and he had to sit in jail until he could prove it was not him. We are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty but somehow it usually ends up the other way around.

Mon, 01/12/2009 - 23:54 Permalink