What is Identity Theft? How it happens

If you have been a victim of identity theft and want to report it, it is first important to understand what identity theft actually is. By definition, an identity theft occurs when an individual is found using your personal information such as your name, address, credit/debit card number, account information, social security number and other criminal acts of this sort. For the theft to come true, it is important that the person uses your information without your knowledge. This is the most rapidly spreading crime in USA today and according to a survey, over 9 million people are affected by it every year.

Coding to steel information
Coding to steel information

When talking about identity theft, a common association is that the act of someone using a stolen credit card or the account information. However this theft includes several more concepts that most people do not know of. In the case of a stolen credit card, the person committing the fraud generally uses it to make purchases but often there are many other ways in which a person can use your information to commit fraud. In the lines that follow, you will be provided with more information regarding what is identity theft and how can it occur to you. Let’s begin:

Stolen mails, utility or phone bills, tax or bank documents also come under identity theft. If your mailbox is left unlocked and not as secure as it should be, important information like this can be easily had by the identity thieves. One way to avoid this is to ask the concerned authorities to send you an electronic statement rather than the mail. This will considerably reduce the opportunities you may otherwise provide to criminals in order to steal your identity.

If a change of address form is filled without your knowledge, your bills and other important documents will be forwarded to the another address. This is quite similar to stealing mails from your mail box. Once the information is received by the criminals, they can use the it to open other accounts in your name thereby sending the statements to a different address. This means that you will see the bills generated in your name.

Internet theft is another common type of identity theft which has been for the past decade. The statistics found for internet related theft are relatively surprising. You may now wonder about what should you do with the statements you opt for electronically. Here you must keep in mind that a criminal needs to be highly sophisticated to steal your identity online. Moreover, today there are a number of software you can choose to further protect your personal information.

As they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, this could come true for you. Always ensure that your trash does not become a reason for your identity theft. If you need to discard any important documents, shred them first. You never know when someone might be searching your trash for financial information and account details which can put you in trouble.

Now that you know what is identity theft, below are some points to remember in order to avoid falling trap to such situations:

  • Do not disclose your passwords and PIN(s) of bank accounts to anyone.
  • Do not ever let out your personal information to someone over the phone.
  • Avoid giving someone your personal information like your full name, address, phone number, etc.
  • Ensure that you shred all documents, which have personal information, before discarding them.

In all, your identity comprises of small pieces of information which can be easily used against you for fraud. With the rising statistics of identity theft, it is important to protect yourself from being victimized by such fraudulent activities.