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Credit Education > Identity Theft > Seriousness of Identity Theft and Its Prevention

Seriousness of Identity Theft and Its Prevention

By Janet Lacey
Published: Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Identity theft is the stealing of your identify by another person by posing as yourself. Identity thieves resort to such identity thefts to access your financial resources and/or obtain credits or receive other benefits in your name. If such an identity theft occurs, it could seriously impact your life, since you would be accountable for the actions of the identity thief. When one individual uses the personal identity information of another person, such as the social security number, credit card or debit card number, etc. and uses such information to commit financial fraud or other types of crimes, it is termed as identity theft.

When an identity theft occurs, it is usually very difficult to detect that immediately and take preventive action. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office revealed that most breaches of identity have not led to detection of such identity theft incidents. Another study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University pointed out that the causes of identity thefts are usually unknown in most cases but added that actual identity theft is only around 2%. Another report by an association of companies of consumer data noted that more than four million data breaches occurred but only 1,800 actual incidences of identity thefts occurred.

The advent of Internet has made identity theft even easier. There are many malware and other apps that help hackers access your personal information such as credit card information, important financial documents, and other finance related information. One example of identity theft enabling program is Zeus. It is so hacker friendly that inexperienced hackers also could operate it quite easily and steal information. Identity thieves use traditional methods also like dumpster driving or looking for your old bills and other financial papers that you have put away in trash. Stealing of purses and wallets also help such thieves in getting vital information about you, since normally you would keep your social security card and other credit cards in your purse.

The Federal Trade Commission of the United States estimates that nearly 9 million American citizens become victims of identity theft each year. The identity thief might rent a house in your name, obtain a telephone connection or a credit card, or make other transactions in your name. It would be very difficult to detect or even get knowledge about such acts unless any crime occurs, such as credit card withdrawals in your name. You would know about that only when you obtain your credit report and notice that withdrawals have been made in your name.

Identity theft is a serious problem whenever it occurs. Some of the victims might be able to resolve such identity theft problems quickly and without too much cost. On the other hand, many victims have found themselves spending hundreds of dollars and it has taken them several months in repairing the damage to their credit record as well as their good name. There have been several occasions when such victims of identity thefts have lost their jobs or denied loans for house or vehicle purchase, educational loans, etc. due to the negative information in their credit reports. A few victims have even undergone arrest in rare cases for crimes that they have not done.

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