Have you heard the news that the fastest growing crime in the U.S. is identity theft? If not, you should stick around and read this article. You must find out the truth about identity theft to avoid being a victim of this yourself.
Here are the scary facts about this crime: It’s the fastest growing crime in America • Every year from 500,000 to 1 million people are robbed of their identity in the U.S.
• The costs? Over $50 billion in the past 5 years alone
• On average it takes from 6 months to 2 years to recover from an ID theft
These facts are actually several years old, since it’s hard to gather information when many cases aren’t discovered until much later. Not only that, if steps aren’t taken by most Americans to stop these thieves it will only get worse. So how do thieves actually go about stealing someone’s identity? It sounds complicated, but in many cases it’s very easy due to the lack of knowledge surrounding identity protection. Many time thieves simply go through a persons garbage after it’s set out at night, hunting for any scrap of paper such as a bill, especially a credit card statement, or anything with your full name and address. The are several pieces to the puzzle the thieves need, but they are persistent and clever in most cases. Once they get your information, they’re in.
Other methods they use are stealing from your mail box – have you ever had bills or credit card statements that don’t show up on time? It’s a good idea to have these sent to you online if at all possible, unless you have a secure mail box. Otherwise you are at risk for thieves to take your bills and steal your identity quickly. An even easier method is for someone to steal a receipt after you have used your credit card or even your debit card, getting your number and signature in the process. If they charge purchases to your credit card, you can be reimbursed in most cases. But if thieves steal your debit card information you may lose it all, every thing in your account, and in most cases banks do not care enough to reimburse you.
Have you ever heard of “skimming”? No, not the kind where you skim rocks over a pond. Skimming is a technique where thieves steal your credit card information by running your card through a small magnetic device that captures your number and pin, before processing the card for a purchase such as at a restaurant. Skimming devices have also been seen at gas station dispensers, and even ATM’s at many banks. Once they are noticed, of course they are removed. The thieves however are rarely caught, and get away with the card numbers they have already stolen since they rack up charges immediately on them.
Once an identity thief gets your information, they can open multiple accounts in your name including credit cards and other store accounts. The bills are sent to alternate addresses, so you may not notice anything is amiss until you check your credit score a year later and notice it has been dropping steadily since. Recovery is painful and lengthy in most cases, although if caught early you can minimize the damage. The best way to avoid all of this in the first place? Make sure you have a plan that will monitor your credit report and credit score 24 hours a day. There are several companies that do this, and they take the worry out of this process for you. Don’t lose it all to identity thieves, make sure you take steps today to protect your financial future. Don’t let the identity theft get the best of you.