Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself from It
    Posted on 10/01/2022

Everyone has heard of identity theft, but not everyone knows what that term truly means. Credit card fraud used to be the opportune crime of choice for many criminals in the past. In modern times however, identity theft has become one of the most widespread criminal problems not only in the United States but also around the world.

What exactly is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a criminal deliberately assumes another person’s identity. The way that they do this varies, but common methods are making use of social security numbers, financial account information, passports, driver’s licenses as well as other personal details in an attempt to illegally impersonate the victim. With the acquired information the criminal can then buy cars, open new financial accounts, gain access to savings, enter the United States and other countries illegally, join the military, and of course commit even more crimes all under that other person’s identity.

Is identity theft different from financial fraud?

Financial fraud is when a criminal illegally uses another person’s credit card, debit card, or checking account (through the use of checks). Usually when a criminal commits financial fraud they do not actually assume their victims identity, which is what differentiates the two forms of criminal activity from one another. Although one can typically recover relatively easily from the usual forms of financial fraud (because the creditor does not hold the victim responsible for the account activity), identity theft is much more difficult to deal with.   

Protecting yourself from identity theft

The first step to protecting one’s self from identity theft is the proper, careful and sensible management of personal information. The following are some guidelines that you should follow to safeguard yourself from criminals trying to steal your identity.

Remember when leaving the house to go anywhere, to only bring what is absolutely necessary with you. When you aren’t carrying around all of your credit cards, your social security card, passport, and other personal items you lessen the chance of becoming the victim of identity theft. Another tip is to avoid having checks sent through the mail, and to try and pick them up at the bank instead if at all possible. This makes it much harder for criminals to intercept your checks and then use them for their own purposes. One of the major things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft is to be extremely careful of handing out contact information and personal details over the phone. Also remember to shred any sensitive documents or information that you put in the trash, criminals have no shame and will dig through mounds of trash just to get a person’s personal information. Signing up for a credit monitoring service is also a good idea; these services alert you of changes to your credit report which indicate fraudulent activity.

Identity theft is a huge problem that affects thousands upon thousands of Americans every single year. In order to minimize the chance that you become a statistic, take the aforementioned tips to heart and your identity will be much safer than before from criminals. 

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