Finance

What Is Identity Theft and how likely is it to Happen to You?

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about identity theft.  In fact, it’s so prevalent that Fed Chairmen Ben Bernake just became the latest celebrated victim.

But what exactly is identity theft and how likely is it to happen to you?

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing categories of crime in the US, with over 9 million victims last year alone.  Every 3 seconds a new care of identity theft happens. It can strike anyone, especially if you shop online or have credit cards because many of the top US retailers have had their databases hacked into within the last 3 years. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before you become a victim.

Identity Theft is defined as a crime in which a criminal obtains your personal information and uses it to commit financial fraud or theft.

But how does the thief get your information?

There are several ways this can happen.  Some are old fashioned, like rifling through your garbage cans to get old bank statements, credit card bills and the like.  However, thieves are increasingly using high tech methods.  These include hacking into company databases where customer records are stored, or installing spyware onto computers to capture the information that gets transmitted between companies and their customers.  Often thieves will find somebody inside a company or government agency that has access to confidential information and pay them to provide it to them.

The information includes your name and address, social security and credit card and bank account numbers.  This information is used to:

1.       Obtain new credit cards in your name, but have them sent to the thief.  They will then use the credit card until the fraud is detected.

2.       Sign up for services, particularly cell phone service in your name.

3.       Open a new bank account in your name and proceed to write bad checks.

While you are usually not ultimately responsible for these stolen amounts, it typically takes months to clear up an incident.  More importantly your credit can be severely damaged, affecting your ability to get the credit you need.

How to prevent it:

Normally, victims are completely unaware that identity theft has occurred, until the company that issued loans or credit lines to the thief does not receive payment and starts coming after you to collect.

Experts agree that the most effective preventative measure is to check your free credit report regularly and try a monitoring service that immediately notifies you whenever there is a suspicious credit activity.  This is the fastest way to spot when someone has obtained your confidential information and is trying to commit fraud.

Just as auto insurance is a requirement for daily life, Identity Protection is a necessity these days. GoIdentityProtect.com is one of the most reputable of these services and they offer a 30 day free trial.  Their trial service includes

1.   Free Credit Report and Credit Report Monitoring, to notify you of any fraudulent activity on your accounts.

2.   Fraud resolution assistance – They will work with creditors’ to resolve any issues in the event that a real or attempted fraud occurs.

3.   “Wallet protection”– if your wallet is lost or stolen just call 1 number to conveniently cancel all cards.  This is a huge time saver.

4.   $1 million ID theft guarantee – The service will cover you from any personal liability for fraudulent use of your credit, lost wages and legal fees, up to one million dollars.

GoIdentityProtect.com is also now offering a 30 day free trial of their service that lets you have all of the benefits of their product for free for 30 days before you decide to subscribe to the service at a low monthly price.

Experts say, if you don’t want to be a victim you have to be pro-active.  Services such as GoIdentityProtect.com make it easy to take the necessary steps to ensure you have the protection you need.

Click here to learn more about this free trial offer and get protected today.