The Crime of Identity Theft
Identity theft victims are often left with a bad credit and
must spend months, or years, regaining their financial health.
In the meantime, they have difficulty obtaining credit, getting
loans, renting apartments, and even getting hired. Identity
theft victims will find little help from the authorities as
they attempt to clean up their credit.
Identity theft is on the rise. Recent surveys
show there are currently 7-10 million victims per year.*
There are two types of identity theft:
- Account takeover occurs
when a thief acquires your existing credit account information
and purchases products and services using either the actual
credit card or simply the account number and expiration
- Application fraud occurs
when a thief uses your SSN and other identifying information
to open new accounts in your name. Victims typically don’t
learn of application fraud for some time, because the monthly
account statements are mailed to an address used by the
Following are strategies for reducing the risk
of both types of fraud.
- Check your credit report at least once a
year. If you are a victim of identity theft, you will want
to catch it early. Since December of 2004, consumers can
get a free copy of their credit report annually.
- Reduce access to your personal data and minimize
the amount of information a thief can steal. Do not carry
your passport, social security card or birth certificate
in your wallet or purse.
- Limit the number of pre-approved offers of
credit you receive by removing your name from the marketing
lists of the three credit reporting bureaus -- Equifax,
Experian and Trans Union by calling 888-5OPTOUT. These offers,
when trashed, are a potential target of identity thieves
who use them to order credit cards in your name.
If you are a victim of identity theft place
fraud alerts on your credit reports with the three bureaus
right away. If your credit report shows an imposter has opened
new accounts in your name, contact those creditors immediately
by phone and in writing.
*Source: Better Business Bureau