As technology enters a new era of smart phones, online banking and digital downloads, identity theft is a rising problem.
The Federal Trade Commission considers identity theft as the theft of personal information. That information is then used without your permission. It’s a serious crime that can destroy finances, credit history and reputations.
Although this problem is becoming more and more common, many people are unaware of the dangers that identity theft can hold.
“Since (identity theft) is such a real problem in the world, it’s important to be aware and know how to protect oneself from identity theft,” Running Start student Annalise Nilson said. “Especially since technological advances have only made it easier for it to happen. But our generation, including myself, tends to ignore it because we don’t think it will ever happen to us.”
The FTC said that about nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Many people don’t know that their identity has been stolen until much of the damage has been done.
Identity theft can take place in many different ways. The most widespread contributor is probably stolen credit cards. If a debit or credit card is found or stolen, it can be used to make purchases.
Another way identity theft can take place is through stolen Social Security numbers. With a SSN, an identity thief can sign up for a multitude of different accounts including credit cards, medical or car insurance, unemployment and false tax returns. All of this will be done in the name of the SSNs true owner. It causes confusion and a financial burden for the identity theft victim.
If identity theft does take place, there are ways to counter it. The FTC gives three immediate steps to take following identity theft; it’s suggested steps are placing an initial fraud alert, ordering personal credit reports and creating an Identity Theft Report.
Typically, three national credit-reporting companies keep information on personal credit history. If one company is contacted, that company will contact the other two.
All three of these companies can place a fraud alert on the credit file of the user. This prevents the identity thief from applying for credit cards in the name of the victim.
Ordering a credit report is a free entitlement to all identity theft victims. Using this, the victim can see, through the three different credit reporting companies, what has been done to his or her accounts.
An Identity Theft Report can help the victim attain some security and rights through the process of the identity theft. It protects victims from having to deal with the aftermath and consequences that might come with having his or her identity stolen.
Identity theft can happen at any time, to anyone, for any reason. Being aware and informed about identity theft is the greatest protection and defense against it.
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