One of the biggest threats facing US today is identity theft. A total of 47.3 million Americans have fallen in these vicious traps over the past five years. In the last year alone, this number was at 13.9 million! The recent survey held by Federal Trade Commission reported a total loss of $5 billion for consumers and $48 billion for businesses from identity theft. In these times of low growth and economic turmoil, the effects of identity theft are all the more pronounced.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft does not actually mean thievery of your identity, but misuse of it by someone else. It is an act of fraud where some other person pretends to be you and succeeds in taking away your hard earned money and properties. The quandary takes a serious turn when such acts of the perpetrator lead to some serious consequences in your life. Hence, it is quintessential to safeguard your identity not only to prevent financial loss, but to protect and defend yourself as well!
Types of Identity Theft:
There are many different kinds of identity thefts committed in the society today. Mainly these can be classified as:
- Business/commercial identity theft
- Financial identity theft
- Criminal identity theft
- Identity cloning
- Medical identity theft
For the common man, these different types of identity theft can be laid down as:
- Credit card fraud
- Bank/finance fraud
- Misuse of your social security number
- Renting a house or using medical services in your name
- Using your identity in any untoward situation like when facing an arrest
Ways of Stealing Identity:
When a person impersonates you, he has all the essential information regarding you and that is why he triumphs in his act of crime. Where does he get all such classified information? The theif does not even need to get to your personal things or enter your home; they could be simply following you! There are different ways they do it for example:
- Shoulder surfing: watching you in public places as you divulge your personal information like credit card number, passwords or pin numbers either at cyber cafes, hotels or rental car companies.
- Dumpster diving: cleaning up your garbage to get hold of some valuable documents like checks, credit card or bank statements.
- Spam: using internet to send you unsolicited exciting mails.
- Online theft: phishing, hacking, or zero day attacks.
- Skimming: using a storage device to steal your credit/debit card numbers.
- Age-old theft techniques: treasury checks, pre-approved credit cards are the sorts of things that can easily be picked up from your mailbox and misused for fraudulent purposes. They could otherwise steal your personal things like wallet to gain your personal information.
Identity theft could be used to facilitate more serious crimes like illegal immigration, espionage and terrorism or could be a means of blackmailing you on emotional grounds. Either way, it is a collective responsibility of the State and the people to wipe out this menace from the society. You can arrest this crime in its roots by taking proper precautions and measures to defend your right to security. Using a powerful anti-virus software can be the first step. If you are worried about the yearly recurring charges, then you can use a power free internet security program like Comodo. You can also enroll in a program like identity guard, which offers you a million dollar identity theft insurance and identity theft victim assistance. You can explore more about this program in one of the reputed identity guard reviews.
Don’t stop with that, whenever you come across an identity theft attempt, report that identity theft.