What, How, and Why of Identity Theft

To protect yourself from being ripped off, it is important that you understand what identity theft is, how it happens, and why it happens.

First of all, identity theft is the act of obtaining your personal private information without your consent for the purpose of committing fraudulent and criminal acts. Identity thieves commit fraud by using your name to apply for new credit cards and loans, take cash out of your bank accounts, purchase a home or car, and a carry out a number of other activities that can cause you great financial harm.

I.D. thieves need only your personal information such as your phone number and address, or your full name as a starting point for stealing your identity. Once this personal information is obtained, even if only a small amount, the criminals can then seek out other information about you. They can search out your driver's license, your bank account number, your Social Security number, where you go to work, and other information to fill in a complete profile about you. When they have a complete personal profile, your identity has effectively been stolen, and they can use your identity to carry out illicit activities.

To avoid having your identity stolen you need to keep a close eye on your credit report. You will also need to watch all other accounts that contain your personal information such as bank accounts, credit card accounts, utility and phone bills, your driver's license records, etc. By getting regular credit reports and monitoring all of your accounts, you can quickly discover if your identity has been compromised, and take action to mitigate the damage.

If you do not have the time or do not want to bother with monitoring the information yourself, there is an easy alternative solution available. As you may be aware, there are a number of identity protection services offered by companies that will monitor your personal information for a monthly or yearly subscription fee. This takes any hassle and guesswork out of the mix.

Should someone apply for credit or attempt any other unauthorized action in your name, the I.D. protection service will notify you and any institutions involved, and take whatever action is necessary. This may include cancelling the compromised accounts, placing a credit alert or credit freeze on your credit, and calling the authorities.

Your identity is an important part of your life, which can easily be appropriated by criminals who are intent on defrauding you and the financial institutions you do business with. To prevent theft of your identity, you must be proactive in guarding your personal information. If you do not have time or inclination to do it yourself you can subscribe to an identity protection service which will do it all for you.

No. of Times this article has been viewed : 185
Date Published : Apr 16 2010

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