The Truth About Identity Theft

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While credit card theft often comes as a result of a massive, publicized data breach, other types of identity theft can be caused by trusted friends, family, and coworkers. Be extremely wary about sharing your usernames, passwords, or financial account information with people you know. Checking credit card statements on a monthly basis is not enough to protect your identity. Thieves usually want to open and abuse new accounts that would never appear on your current statements. Cyber criminals are also smart. Thieves know you were just offered a year of free credit reporting after the latest department store breach.

They will wait days before using and abusing your information. Your best defense is to remain vigilant over your identity by requesting a credit report from each of the three major bureaus, at least once a year. The Center recommends requesting one credit report every four months. For every major data breach reported, there are dozens of small business breaches that never make the headlines.

Hackers know that most small businesses do not have the appropriate time or resources dedicated to cyber security, which is why small business are so aggressively targeted with cyber attacks.

Identity theft - Wikipedia

As a business owner, take the appropriate steps to secure your business from inside and outside threats. As a shopper, research a company and their cyber practices before sharing your payment methods and personal data. While data breaches certainly add to the growing number of victims affected by identity theft, many cases occur with no ties to the Internet.

A lost wallet, checkbook, or Social Security card can trigger the long and tiresome identity theft recovery process. Credit cards can be skimmed at a gas pump or restaurant. Thieves are not above jumping into dumpsters to steal improperly discarded information. Criminals will also steal mail right out of an unlocked mailbox. The best place for your most sensitive information is in a safe in your home.

Sensitive mail should always be placed in a locked mailbox, and trash should be run through a cross-cut shredder.

Myth 2: Identity theft is just a financial crime.

Antivirus software is an important element in keeping your computer and personal information safe, but it can't prevent all cyber threats. Most antivirus programs only detect a fraction of known malware and viruses. The programs can only protect against known attacks.

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Elaborate phishing scams and dormant viruses can still compromise your devices and personal information. Run your antivirus software often, and check for updates, but understand it can't single-handedly keep your information safe. Identity theft and data breaches may make it seem like your information is out of your hands, but you can take steps to help prevent identity theft online and offline.

Be careful about the personally identifying information you share online, especially on social media.

What can we help you with?

Shred mail and documents with account information. Never carry your Social Security number. Check your credit report, for free, three times a year and report any errors.

Victims of ID theft: 5 steps to take

Request your medical history and report any errors. Consider investing in an identity theft protection service. Keep your computer and devices updated and protected with antivirus programs and firewalls. Take an active role in protecting your identity, so if something does happen, you can catch it early.

Be sure to stay on top of emerging trends and threats in identity security by subscribing to the IDWise e-newsletter. Identity theft is a victimless crime. Identity theft is just a financial crime. Criminal identity theft occurs when a person abuses faulty or stolen identification to evade the law.

In most cases, if you can prove that the debts are not your responsibility, then you will not be liable for them, however it can also be very difficult to prove that you are not at fault. Even if you manage to absolve yourself of responsibility for the debts, removing incorrect information from your credit score can be even harder.

Identify theft problem: The facts behind the fear

Whilst credit agencies are supposed to remove incorrect information, they often move very slowly when doing so. By the time that the information has been corrected, you may have already been rejected for a number of credit opportunities. Anyone doing a credit check on you in future will then see these rejections, and this may affect their credit decisions.

This could make it very difficult for you to get a mortgage, a new credit card or a loan. Some people even have trouble getting a new phone contract once they have a black mark on their credit rating. Most credit agencies will put a notice of corrections on to your credit file, but people who are doing a quick credit check may not notice this. It is therefore important to spot identity theft as early as possible. While identity theft is still a serious crime, victims are rarely harmed physically, unless the theft has come as a result of a mugging or similar physical robbery.

If you were the victim of a violent crime it is possible that you could have been left psychologically or physically affected or both as a result. If this is the case then a victim might have some comfort in the knowledge that they could potentially make a criminal injury claim for compensation. Methods of identity theft evolve rapidly as new mediums such as social media develop quickly, so it is almost impossible to completely prevent identity theft, however it is possible to reduce the likelihood of being a target by taking certain precautions.

Take care to protect your data by being aware of your privacy settings on social media.