Identity Theft - Beware!

Written by Staff

Beware! In a nation of high tech industry, we succumb to opening ourselves to fraudulent and divisive motives of thieves waiting to rob us of our very name. This phenomenon is not new in that William Shakespeare wrote in his play Othello...

"But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed." (Shakespeare, Othello Act III, Scene III)

What is new is that access to our personal information has become much easier in the scope of things. Identity theft becomes an ever more viable tool for thieves seeking to access your information via Internet exchanges, by the very companies that have our personal identity info, and through medical information as well.

In simple terms - Identity theft is the process of someone using your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other criminal acts. Personal information is defined as your name, birth date, and social security number. This information is used by identity thieves to apply for credit, open bank accounts, obtain cell phones, including the purchase of automobiles (FTC).

The FTC estimates that as many as 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

How a thief steals your Identity
Thieves have a variety of ways that they obtain your personal information and the easiest ways include

1) "Dumpster surfing." Basically they go through your trash.

2) "Shoulder surfing" which literally means they are watching you as you type in a pin number at teller machines, key in numbers into a phone and at the checkout line in the grocery store.

3) They will eavesdrop on your phone conversations.

4) steal wallets and your mail right out of your mailbox

5) They hack into computer systems.

6) They may phone you posing as a banker or financial representative requesting of you key personal information.

7) A thief may even be your co-worker selling your information for a price (FTC).

How to recognize if you are a victim of Identity Theft and what to do

Key things to be aware of are,

1) Statements in the mail from credit card accounts you have not opened.

2) Credit card statements with charges that you did not make.

3) Credit card statements arrive late after the actual due date.

4) Bank statements that contain unfamiliar transfers and withdrawals.

5) You order new checks and they do not arrive this is definitely a concern.

6) A big red flag - is if your bank or financial institution denies you credit, and you know your credit is in good standing.

As a victim it's a high cost involving, precious time and energy, while working through the endless paperwork trying to restore your credit and credibility (para.-The Name Game: Identity Theft)

What to do to avoid Identity Theft
When it comes to Identity theft, there are numerous resources available including books, and websites that offer a plethora of ideas and simple solutions to protecting your Identity. Here is a list of basic things you can do to avoid Identity theft.

What to do if you become a victim of Identity Theft

1) Report it to the three major credit bureaus
Equifax -
Experian -
Trans Union -

2) Close Accounts
Contact creditors and financial institutions on all accounts that have been fraudulently accessed.

3) Call the police
if your personal information has been stolen, file a report and get a copy to submit to credit and financial institutions.

4) File a Complaint with the FTC
Law enforcement agencies use the FTC's identity theft information data base for investigations.

Websites for additional help

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Center for Democracy and Technology

Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Website

United States Post Office

Factual content of Identity Theft information for this article are from these sources:
The Federal Trade Commission Website:
Safeguard Your Identity, The Name Game: Identity Theft.
Denver, Co: (published by Buffini and Company)
Articles distributed by Viking Roofing 2006.