Internet Scams: Identity Theft
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime which is rising dramatically. It involves the thief obtaining, acquiring or stealing enough information about a person that they (the thief) can fraudulently obtain goods and services using the details of the victim.
Usually, the crime happens without your knowledge. Often the first indication can be credit cards being refused at the transaction point, or letters from creditors demanding you repay them immediately or face court action.
What Information Does an Identity Thief Steal?
The information this type of thief targets is your everyday transactions which reveal crucial details about your life: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number (SSN); or your name, address, and phone numbers.
With just enough of the correct type of information, an identity thief can begin defrauding on as large as scale as your credit history will allow.
Clearing Up The Mess
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years, as well as their hard-earned cash, cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. Some victims have lost job opportunities, been refused loans for education, refused credit for housing or cars, or even been arrested for crimes they didnít commit.
Is it Possible to Prevent Identity Theft?
As with any crime, you cannot completely control whether it can happen to you. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can minimize your risk by being more cautious in how you deal with, and dispose of, your personal information.
Next page: How ID theft occurs
Also see Identity Theft - What to do