If you’ve ever received one of those slick identity theft protection “checks” from your credit card company, you’ve probably wondered who you actually need protection from – the credit card companies or the identity thieves? You may have even cashed one – thinking it was a rewards check – only to find out that you are now enrolled in a $25 per month fraud and identity theft protection plan.
All cynicism aside, however, identity theft is a serious problem that actually does affect millions of people in the United States alone each year. In fact, it is estimated that number affected in 2005 was over nine million. Not all of these cases are serious, however; in some cases, the identity is taken as part of a database, but isn’t actually ever used fraudulently to make purchases. So is it worth enrolling in that identity theft protection plan for $25 each month? The answer is usually no, surprisingly. While a credit card company might be able to provide you with additional security by double checking transactions, they can also hinder your ability to spend constantly cutting off your line of credit whenever they deem something to be suspicious. This could be a significant problem if you travel abroad, as credit card companies sometimes register these transactions as potentially fraudulent – which will prevent you from spending and leave you stranded.
Rather than purchasing protection, consider creating your own identity theft protection system by taking careful measures to prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands. One big step you can take in your identity theft protection system is to only submit your information to secure sites when you spend over the Internet. You can determine whether or not a site is secure by looking for the closed lock symbol in the bottom right-hand corner. And there you have it: protect yourself from the credit card companies and use your own system for identity theft protection instead – preferably one that doesn’t involve cashing dubious checks with secret strings attached.
Kinds of Identity Theft Cases of identity theft have grown at an alarming rate in recent years. The effects of identity theft are far reaching and can take months and even years to correct. It can be difficult to identify the criminal in these kinds of theft situations. Many people think of identity theft only in situations where a social security number has been used to obtain credit cards. While this is one of the ways that a person’s identity can be stolen there are many other kinds of ways that a person can use a stolen identity.
The main goal of identity thieves is to gain purchasing power under someone’s name other than their own. They may use this purchasing power for many different things. Some identity thieves may get phone and other utilities in someone else’s name. Many times the reason for this is because they cannot receive these services in their own name because of high debt or because they already owe the service provider money from a previous service.
Identity thieves can also open a bank account in a person’s name and write bad checks for the account. These thieves have become smarter and smarter in being able to do this. They might get a driver’s license in another person’s name in order to open a new checking account. Identity thieves also find ways to create counterfeit checks someone even with the right name and account number on the checks.
An identity thief might file bankruptcy in your name after incurring a high amount of debt under your name. This can have long-lasting implications as you might not become aware of the bankruptcy until it is too late.
It is important to be aware of all the different ways that identity theft can occur. Awareness will help you to take the necessary actions in the unfortunate event that identity theft happens to you.