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Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Identify theft can take many forms, and according to the Federal Trade Commission up to 9 million Americans have their identities stolen and used each year to commit fraud. If an individual has had their personal information used to make erroneous credit card charges, establish a telephone line or cash forged checks, they have been the victim of identify theft. Cleaning up the mess left behind by identify thieves can cost hundreds of dollars and ruin a good credit score and a strong reputation. Other consequences can include lost job opportunities, higher interest rates charged for borrowing money or denial of loans. At the very worst it could lead to a false arrest.

Acquiring Personal Information

Acquiring personal information can be as easy as rummaging through trash cans for credit card statements or bills which have personal information, phishing (pretending to be someone else in hopes of acquiring personal information), skimming (stealing credit card information) or stealing purses and wallets. After the information is stolen the real damage begins as identity thieves proceed to open new credit card accounts, charge services in your name, generate exorbitant bills, use counterfeit checks, buy goods, take out a loan, file false tax returns, get a driver's license or get free medical services all in your name. How can an individual protect themselves against identity theft? Periodically checking credit reports is one of the best ways to ensure you are not the victim of an identity threat. Valuable information should also be shredded before it is thrown away, and Social Security Cards should not be carried in wallets or purses.

More Help on Identity Theft

  • Credit Report - Credit reports are documents provided by major credit reporting companies (most notably Experian, Trans Union and Equifax) which contain personal information about individuals such as: how much money the individual has borrowed, how much debt is owed by the individual and the individual\'s bill payment history. - read more

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