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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Wouldn't is be wiser and safer to know how vulnerable you are to identity theft before the theft occurs? Too many ID theft programs only help you after you are a victim.

Copyright (c) 2008 Ed Opperman

(What is Identity Theft and How to Avoid It)

O.K., I'll protect myself from identity theft; but first I have to know what it is. So, what exactly is identity (ID) theft?

Succinctly put, it is the crime of obtaining your personal and / or financial information (i.e. name, address, Social Security number, credit card information, bank information, etc.) to assume your identity to either commit a criminal act, fraudulently secure credit or services, make purchases or secure money while impersonating you.

Several Federal agencies in tracking the incidences of identity theft have found this crime to be on the rise and the fastest growing in the U.S. The following alarming statistics provide this information:

More than 9 million new victims per year for two straight years Over 30 million identified new victims in past five years Is the top consumer complaint to the FTC five years in a row

How is it possible that this incredible number of people fall victim to this crime? There are several avenues through which dumb criminals fraudulently obtain credit in your name, all of which you can do something to stop.

Several years ago, many fell victim due to their disposal methods of personal papers and files. Criminals had a field day with just picking up you garbage from curbside, taking it home and gleaning from its contents your Social Security number, bank, credit card and other personal information.

Many people have now become aware of this and aggressively secure their personal documentation. While this is a good first step, another avenue of breech is your friendly credit-reporting agency. That's right; I did say your credit-reporting agency.

It seems that it's too easy for someone to impersonate you in the process of securing credit in your name. That's because Credit Reporting Agencies do not meticulously check the information on credit applications. They do not have in place a checks and balance system of correctly identifying the applicant. These Credit Reporting Agencies do not screen applicants with personally identifying queries designed to identify the credit requestor definitively.

Once a credit application has been approved you may be going on with your day-to-day life until somewhere out of the blue you begin to get nasty calls and correspondence from a creditor whom you've never heard of. This is your first inkling that something is terribly wrong.

Then, when you've determined what happened, not only are you stuck with the bill but also with a Credit Reporting Agency's demand that you pay them $35 to obtain your credit report. What's that for? Well, to see if someone actually did get credit in your name without your knowing it.

"Wait a minute," I can hear you say. "You mean to tell me that not only do I have a new bill that I did not create but it came by way of a watch-dog agency that should have caught it but didn't?" That's right. So, now they'll tell you, by way of the credit report, that they actually did let someone get credit in your name but, that's not their fault. Yeah, right!!

So, how do you avoid being the victim of identity theft? Ask yourself, which do you prefer, an ounce of prevention or a pound of cure?

If you answered an ounce of prevention, you'd be on target. Most identity programs however, suggest that you work with the pound of cure premise. That is, periodically obtain your credit report to see if anyone has already secured credit in your name. That will only let you know whether someone has already ruined your credit, run up bills in your name and where, when and how much of a good time they had spending your money.

Wouldn't it be far better to determine your vulnerability to identify theft and take steps to avoid it in the first place or the ounce of prevention tactScience Articles, if you will? That's why securing the services of an investigative professional is so important in this 21st century; they are your ounce of prevention. Criminals will continue to create new ways to steal your identity but investigative professionals will stop them dead in their tracks and before you become their next victim.

Article Tags: From Identity Theft, From Identity, Identity Theft, Credit Reporting, Credit Report

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