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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Basic Facts About Identity Theft

Identity theft comes in many different forms, but in all cases the goal of the thief is to profit financially by using your personal information. The first step in protecting yourself is to understand a few basic facts about identity theft comes in many different forms, but in all cases the goal of the thief is to profit financially by using your personal information. The first step in protecting yourself is to understand a few basic facts about identity theft.

What exactly is “identity theft”?
Identity theft, also known as “identity fraud”, “ID theft” and “ID fraud”, is the unauthorized use of your personal information. That may include your name, address, Social Security number, birth date, or other miscellaneous financial information. And identity theft can happen to anyone, anytime, with consequences ranging from minor to catastrophic.

So… what are the consequences of identity theft?
Many people identify more with the financial consequences of becoming a victim of identity theft; however, having your good name smeared by a thief conducting illegal actions can often lead to a greater burden than if they open new accounts or write bad checks on your behalf. Often, if you are victimized by this type of robbery, you will find that it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to address the damage that has been done to you.

Common Identity Theft Violations
Here are some of the things a thief might do with your personal information:

  • Change the address on one of your existing credit card accounts so you don’t notice his new charges racking up
  • Open a new created card account in your name, but not your address
  • Set up a phone or wireless service in your name and make phone calls
  • Open a bank account in your name and then write bad check
  • File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction
  • Buy cars and homes by taking out auto loans and mortgages in your name

Just who are these people stealing personal information?
Identity theft crimes are often committed by people you have never met. Some people who are associated with common identity theft scams are members of gangs, mafia, and drug addicts. But, identity theft crimes also happen among friends and family members.

What do I do if I think I’m a victim?
If you suspect you might be a victim of identity theft, get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Review them carefully. These reports will contain information about all the credit accounts opened in your name, including those opened by a thief without your knowledge or consent. If you see suspicious accounts or addresses, file a dispute with the reporting bureau and your creditors. It may be a sign that you actually are a victim.

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