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Identity Theft

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  • Pages: 9
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  • Category: Credit

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We all believe that identity theft will not happen to us and become less likely to focus on protecting our personal information. Yet, most people say I do not know anyone that would do such harm to me, it will not happen to me and it is the most common theft that most victims share. Did you know that the majority of identity theft comes from family members? Family are the most common to steal the identity of other family members, so ask yourself how important is your personal information and are you actually protecting yourself? Are you taking the proper precautions? Is every account protected? In order to protect our identity it is important to understand what identity theft is, what steps can be taken to prevent identity theft, what can be done to recover from identity theft and what laws are in place to protect the consumer from identity theft.

Always keep in mind that identity theft can happen to everyone this includes children. Parents at times become desperate after bills were not able to be paid due to loss of job or other economic issues at that time in order to keep services on parents tend to take the identity of their children in order to continue having electricity, water or cable. This is only the beginning and although it may sound harmless but as it stands if the parent was not able to pay the services under their name how will they be able to pay their child’s bill? This is how most identity theft starts and before considering this pattern, read on and better understands before taking any drastic decisions that can be penalizing in the long run.

What is Identity Theft?
The act in which a personal takes another individuals name and complete personal information in order to obtain materials through creditors or by living the stolen identity. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personally identifying information, like a person’s name, Social Security number, or credit card number or other financial information, without permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2012) Identity theft is a crime in which the penalization can vary depending on the states but are mainly classified as Felonies such as Larceny crimes. Larceny is defined by the Department of Justice as completed or attempted theft of property or cash without personal contact. Incidents involving theft of property from within the sample household would classify as theft if the offender has a legal right to be in the house (such as a maid, delivery person, or guest). If the offender has no legal right to be in the house, the incident would classify as a burglary. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011) The majority of people believe that theft is taking the property of others when in fact theft is a matter of taking information or items that does not belong to the person taking it.

How can it be prevented?
To prevent identity theft it is important to keep all personal records secured. When paying bills it is important to avoid most online payments. If possible pay in person or through a direct payer. There are many ways that individuals expose their personal information to others such as, being at a supermarket and when paying opening the wallet in front of others and leaving it open until change or a receipt is received is a prime example in today’s society. When home a person should keep personal information in safe locked areas, preferably, or in a hidden area that would be difficult to access to the unknown eye.

When disposing of information such as mail it is best to shred all pertinent documents that obtain names, account numbers, addresses so on and so forth. Identity theft can occur from a person going through another’s individual garbage or from stealing mail from a personal mailbox. (Federal Trade Commission, 2012) When selecting passwords for banks or anything that can hold any type of information that can be used to falsify identity, select different words with capitalization and numbers, this will make it more difficult for others’ to guess and obtain access into accounts. At times, personal information must be safe guarded from family members as well seeing as the majority of identity theft are those closest to home.

Without the proper care of personal information the risk of potential identity theft are greater. Everyone works hard at obtaining a good credit history in order to purchase large items such as homes, vehicles, or large purchase items that for most credit can obtain. (Federal Trade Commission, 2012) When individuals are careless with their personal information other people have the ability to obtain these items under another’s name are higher and at times will not repay, which will lead to debt and other legality issues. The best form of protection for identity theft are setting credit alerts that watch accounts, sends alerts if and when a new account is opened or if a suspected action is taken that does not fit the current pattern of accounts. Having such alerts can minimize the risk substantially hence the importance of protecting personal information.

How do you know when your identity has been stolen?
Consumers often realize their identity has been stolen once a yearly credit report is obtained. By this point the damages can be excessive and damaging to the persons’ credit standards. When obtaining credit reports it is always important to verify all the accounts that are shown with the information at hand in order to ensure that it belongs there and that it is the person’s own. (Federal Trade Commission, 2012) When going through the credit report verifying employers are also important since at times employers’ ask for credit reports and will be on the report itself. Look for other names, addresses and date of birth all of the basic information if overlooked can cause a lot of damage.

Other forms that would trigger identity theft are being denied credit which is common once identity theft has occurred. Receiving credit cards or credit offers that was never applied to or receiving calls regarding items that were bought yet were not personally bought (Federal Trade Commission, 2012). These are ways to carefully monitor your credit at hand. When trying to apply for credit always, if available, choose to receive the credit report that the company has obtained, especially if denied credit when before it was granted without hesitation. Providing all the information needed from companies to ensure their protection as well as knowing how to protect personal information will minimize risks for identity theft.

How to recover from identity theft.
When identity theft has occurred there are steps to follow to ensure the best results. First review the credit report and circle or highlight all accounts that were not made personally. Second call each of the credit bureaus and set up fraud alerts. Be sure to document at what time the call was made, who was the representative spoken to and what was said to address the issue. Also, contact all companies of unauthorized accounts and document everything that was exchanged just like the credit bureau. Third, request for removal through writing letters and proving that none of the accounts were personally acquired and write a letter to the credit bureaus informing of identity theft as well. Filing police reports for identity theft are a big advantage for a better result in repairing identity and credit, each company and bureau will have to acknowledge without hesitation; be sure to keep this in mind if identity theft happens to you. (Federal Trade Commission, 2012)

Recovering from identity can be a painful and stressful process for all individuals. Some individuals are able to recover a lot faster than others and others never can recover. Considering today’s turnover rates for employment, there are many that are being laid off and others that have been laid off for long periods of time and still have not found another source of income. This is how important having a credit score is and how crucial it is to ensure the information is in the right hands. Just know that if seeking for a better career or job opportunity having identity theft happen will prevent this opportunity. This is why protecting personal identity is very crucial to individuals otherwise the emotional toll that it takes on those without access to recover are at high at risk to continue the same pattern and damage their own credit.

What is being done to prevent identity theft?
Laws have been put in place that enforce companies to notify all their customers or clients if there is ever any type of breach of security (Kunick & Posner, 2011). “Without question, the Red Flags Rule affects a wide range of organizations that face a risk of identity theft. In order to comply with the rule, these organizations must define and implement policies and information systems that focus on collecting, analyzing, and managing information about customers and their accounts in order to detect and prevent identity theft.” (Kunick & Posner, 2011) Companies are under strict rules and regulations in order to protect the consumer from fraud or any unwanted activities.

By understanding the Red Flags Rule an individual can have a better chance at confronting creditors such as banks or credit card companies when identity theft occur. It is important to understand all the laws in place that help protect the consumer in case of any type of theft including identity theft. Be sure to careful know and learn the laws and when confused speak to an expert before continuing any steps this helps ensure that everything is being done accordingly. Without being properly educated, it can be a challenging road when repairing credit. Keep in mind that there are many resources online such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice that have more information on how to protect identity and what to do when it has happened and recovering is needed.

It is important to understand that recovering from identity theft can take months to years before any real progress is seen. Identity theft takes victims on an emotional rollercoaster that at times makes it harder to recover. Being able to be aware of how we dispose of our personal information or how we store our personal information are important to us all when it involves everything that has been worked for in order to attain our goals or dreams. At times we like to say to ourselves that even when knowing what can be, we believe that it will not be. There are many things in life that we protect our children, our reputation, and everything we hold dear to our hearts and our lifetime of work is just as important, this includes our credit. When we are careless or even for the slightest moment look the other way with everything left out in the open that is when the risks have increased and could possibly lose that sense of protection that we thought we had. When our credit is ruined it has not just invaded our personal life but it will affect the way we raise our children and how we provide for them or even how we will be able to educate them and those around us. Be careful and remember that even though it may not happen to us we want to continue things as if we are victims of identity theft. We lose the things that are closest to us and only realize the damage when it has been too late to be repaired, do not let this be the cause of is it too late?


National Conference of State Legislatures (2012). Identity Theft State Statutes. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/banking/identity-theft-state-statutes.aspx

Federal Trade Commission. (2012). Fighting Back Against Identity Theft. Retrieved from http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/index.html

Romanosky, S., Telang, R., & Acquisti, A. (2011). Do data breach disclosure laws reduce identity theft?. Journal Of Policy Analysis & Management, 30(2), 256-286. doi:10.1002/pam.20567

Kunick, J. M., & Posner, N. B. (2011, May/June). . Following the Red Flag Rules to Detect and Prevent Identity Theft

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2011). Larceny/Theft. Retrieved from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=322

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