There are various forms of identity theft.
While all equally wrong to its victims-and all equally wrong by those who commit this crime-the impact levels vary.
Although in all forms, the bottom line is that your identity is compromised.
When I initially discovered that I was a victim of identity theft, my mind went right to thinking someone stole my credit card number and made a fraudulent purchase.
I also thought identity theft was a term that was used to describe those could not be more obvious fraudulent e-mails requesting you transfer “$1 million dollars” into a bank account to help someone in a country you've never heard of-WHO would fall for this I would think?! And looking back, this is not even identity theft-this is a pure scam.
Honestly, I didn't think identity theft would ever be part of my vernacular. I am a very careful person. I scrutinize everything, which makes this crime even more difficult because it is not as though I can change my behavior going forward.
I thought, and it sounds cliché, that this does not pertain to me. First, because I am aware, and would not “fall” for being a victim of identity theft, and if someone did use my credit card, well, I could just straighten the identity theft out with my bank, and that some cumbersome paperwork might be the worst of what would be endured.
But, unfortunately, that is not all that lies in the spectrum of identity theft. Mine was much worse. Much worse in the aspect that it involved someone perpetrating that they were me and signed-up for any good or service under the sun. Using my name and accessing my credit. And, having ZERO regard for the financial mess alone that this would cause, and leaving me the painstaking mess to fix.
Now, you might think to yourself, well this girl had "the much worse version", so this won't happen to me to this degree.
No, that's the point of this blog and this website. This can happen to anyone and to any degree-identity theft is the number one reported "complaint" to the Federal Trade Commission.
When you hear of all of these recent data breaches in the news your mind may go to the “hope I don’t have to straighten this out with the credit card company identity theft”, but the much more damaging component is your personal information-including your social security number being accessed-which is exactly what can occur.
All it takes is a name (it doesn’t even have to be yours), an address (you don’t have to be living there), and your social security number-now, that is the ONE thing the criminal must get right-the social security number. This is the access point. And, in some data breaches, this information is compromised.
Once identity theft is committed to you in an area of the spectrum, you are susceptible for it occurring in any area. You must be proactive and respond as if it will or has happened.
Let’s face it, criminals are unlikely to feel compassion for you in one area, but not another-whatever financial or medical gain-they will take it. And, those nine digits are all that it takes-all.
Hoping identity theft doesn't strike you should not be the status quo.
We keep hearing about this crime…the reoccurring data breaches, the fraudulent filed tax forms…it seems daily there is another form that identity theft takes. Another area you need to monitor.
Yet, I don't hear much being asked what is being done to prevent this crime.
We are good on the dead-end resources front too.
And, I mean dead-end in every sense of the word.
No. I don’t want you to help me clean up the identity theft mess-what I’d like is for this crime not to occur-which companies do have some control. A lot more control then what is being exercised today.
Companies need to protect our personal information-on both fronts.
Look at who has your personal information, what are they doing to protect it?
They need to treat it as if it is going to be hacked and put safeguards in place to prevent this crime today, not when it happens.
And, what due diligence is being conducted before companies extend credit?
If companies are going to request a social security number, actually check whose credit it is linked to-does five-year old Billy want a mortgage?