Identity theft does not happen on its own.
For the theft to occur, three things must be true.
An organization or person you trusted with your information does not protect it. Many organizations have access to sensitive information that could put you at risk. What measures are in place to protect that information is important to ask.
A criminal is successful at accessing your social security number. There are many ways your social security can be compromised. These may include through a place you trusted with your information (health care provider, place of employment, school system, etc.), sensitive documents stolen from your home or computer, or the criminal is able to obtain the information from you through deceptive means (e-mail, phone, etc.).
Companies who extend credit to the criminal. A thorough due diligence process is not completed and credit is extended to the criminal in your name.
There needs to be stricter laws enacted against those who commit identity theft. And, there needs to be a much higher standard of due diligence that companies perform for those seeking credit.
As a victim of identity theft, we should not have to be in the position of having to prove we are who we say we are to a greater extent than the thief had to prove when opening up fraudulent accounts.
Just because we are in a technology age of faster, easier, convenient, accessible, etc. does not mean we should circumvent the responsibility of knowing who credit is extended to and leaving the mess of having to clean-up any fraudulently opened accounts to the victims.
Spread the Word
Tell your friends and family about protecting their identity. When asked to share your social security number, or any sensitive information, ask what the information is being used for and what identity theft prevention procedures are in place.