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2008 Identity Theft Statistics and Several Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
Recent identity theft statistics and exactly what identity theft is.
Identity theft has been said to be the largest white-collar crime in the history of the United States. The Federal Trade Commission announced that “1 in 6 Americans will be a victim of identity theft this year alone. In the past twelve months, 9.93 million people experienced some type of identity theft crime against them. Victims spend an average of $1,200 in expenses from out of pocket and an average of 175 hours in your efforts to solve the many problems caused by identity thieves.” Criminal identity theft occurs when a fraudster gives another person’s name and personal information such as a driver’s license, date of birth, or social security number (SSN) in order to obtain a job, apartment, money, goods, or other services. Or an impostor may present a forged license or ID form that contains another person’s information. There are 5 different types of identity theft and most people are not aware of them all!
Five types of identity theft
1. DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES – Identity thieves could obtain a driver’s license in your name and rack up traffic tickets in your name, and they could also get a DUI on your license and fail to appear in court.
2. SOCIAL SECURITY – an identity thief could use your social security number for employment purposes and you could get a tax bill. Many illegal aliens buy many Americans name and SSN. There are now 11 million illegal aliens in USA Today. Most of them work under someone else’s name and birth certificate. They could file a tax return under your name and get an online refund instantly.
3. BUREAU OF MEDICAL INFORMATION – An identity thief could use your personal information to obtain prescriptions or medical care that reduces your available benefits. This area of ID THEFT is growing rapidly as more and more people cannot afford health insurance. They could get a relief test in your name that would go to the MIB.
4. CRIMINAL IDENTITY – an identity thief could use your information to avoid a fine or prison. You could find that you have a criminal record for bad checks, shoplifting, pornography, prostitution, etc.
5. FINANCIAL IDENTITY – an identity thief could use your information to obtain money, goods or services by leaving it with your account. They could rent a car in your name and not return it. They could buy vehicles, real estate, etc.
How to avoid becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft
First, every household needs a food chopper, you need to buy one if you don’t have one. Dumpster diving is an older method, but it’s still # how criminals get our information. A shredder will help you eliminate the amount of information thieves can get from your trash. Second, get up-to-date anti-spyware or anti-hacking software for your computer. Outdated software could jeopardize much of what you hold dear. Also, never give out personal information over the phone. How can you know that someone is who they say they are, if it’s over the phone. Finally, invest in identity theft protection and renewal insurance. Many companies only offer to monitor your financial identity and only alert you to activity on your credit report. Remember that tracking is not a cure for identity theft, because you were a victim after all! Anti-theft protection and recovery is the only answer to this problem! Simply put, monitoring will only alert you to a problem. In most cases, the amount of fraud exceeds thousands of dollars. Therefore, without a lawyer, most financial institutions hesitate to just drop the charges. Which can take weeks, months or even years to fight alone! So if you have a problem with identity theft, now you have a legal problem. Restoration is the only solution to identity theft!
3. What are the ways thieves get personal data?
1. Dumpster diving – thieves will steal your information from paperwork that is not properly disposed of. They can rummage through your trash, company dumpsters, or even the city dump looking for personal information.
2. Phishing and Pretexting – These are similar methods of identity theft. Pretexting is where a person pretending to be with a legitimate company, like your insurance company, will call and try to get you to verify account numbers or even your SSN. Phishing is basically the same except the thief will email you instead of calling you.
3. Shoulder surfing – this is where a thief will look over your shoulder when making transactions, for example at an ATM. They can even use devices like cell phones to record you without your knowledge.
4. Social Networking Sites – While most adults are careful about the information they post on sites like MySpace, a few teenagers and even some unwitting adults put themselves at risk of identity theft on a daily basis. Identity thieves find names, addresses and even dates of birth on popular sites and use them to commit identity fraud.
5. File Sharing or Peer to Peer Software – People who access your music files also have access to other files on your computer.
6. Fake job offers – crooks will post fake job ads and get you to fill out an application, including your social security number.
7. Fake sweepstakes or lotteries – These offers are usually sent by email and claim to have won the Canadian lottery or some other sweepstakes that you never actually entered.
8. Hacking – If your computer is not properly secured, a hacker can gain access to all the information you have stored. Hackers also gain information by hacking organizations’ computer systems to obtain large amounts of information at once.
9. Mail Theft- This is similar to dumpster diving, except thieves will actually steal your mail directly from your mailbox. They steal bank statements, pre-approved credit card offers, etc.
10. Lost or Stolen Personal Items – It’s pretty obvious how thieves steal your identity by stealing your wallet, PDA or laptop. The same applies when you lose your personal belongings.
11. Working at home – this might be one of the most invasive ways to get information. Contractors or other workers can find and use account numbers or other information you have out in the open.
12. Changing your address- A thief will often forge your signature to forward your mail to another address. They will then get information from your bank statements or they can sign up for your pre-approved credit card offers.
13. Copying Data During Transactions- Dishonest company employees will sometimes steal your credit card information while processing your transactions. They can do this when you are at the company or when you give your information over the phone.
14. Credit report – thieves can pose as a potential employer or landlord to get a copy of your credit report. This way I can find out a lot of your information.
15. RFID reading – RFID is short for radio frequency identification. RFID tags can be found on certain credit cards and other types of cards. Thieves are making RFID readers that, if within range of you, can skim the data off your card. Whether it’s over the phone, online, stealing your wallet, dumpster diving, or a company you trusted mishandled your personal information, these thieves are getting more creative by the day!
4. Medical identity theft can be an individual’s worst nightmare.
Imagine applying for the job of a lifetime and you can’t get it because someone used your social security number. Treating an infectious disease on your behalf. Or worse, a diabetic steals your insurance information and uses it. If you were hospitalized and unable to speak…in this case, correct or incorrect medical information in your record could be the difference between life and death. Medical identity theft currently accounts for only 3 percent of identity theft crimes, or 249,000 of the estimated 8.3 million people whose identities were exposed in 2005, according to the Federal Trade Commission. But as the push for electronic medical records gains momentum, privacy experts worry those numbers could rise significantly. They are concerned that as doctors and hospitals switch from paper records to electronic medical records (EMRs), as they are called, it could become easier for people to gain unauthorized access to sensitive patient data on a large scale. In addition, Microsoft, Revolution Health, and Google announced in 2008 that they were developing services that would allow consumers to store their health information online. Consumers may not even know their records are at risk. This could be a nightmare, and with EMRs, medical identity theft will become more common across the country.
5. Is it possible for someone to obtain the information and use it to steal the child’s identity?
Yes, if thieves get hold of a minor’s social security number, anything is possible. The date of birth was only changed by thieves. Thieves like to target children because their credit files are intact and almost never checked. As parents, we don’t even think to check it. Even before identity theft became so prominent in the 21st century, identity thieves were targeting children. Now that security breaches are so common and hackers can find personal information through identity theft, your child’s identity is even easier to steal than ever before.
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