What is Identity Theft?

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Most people have seen the stories on the news – credit card companies and retailers dealing with security breaches and potential cases of fraud. These crimes were committed by thieves that were determined to gain access to the account information of others, including their addresses, names and finances. Access to this type of information can lead to further cases of theft on an individual level, meaning that not only did the initial breach occur, but there is a chance for further crimes.

Identity theft explained

Identity theft happens when someone takes and uses the information that belongs to another, passing it off as their own. This type of use is typically associated with the desire to be successful, able to obtain something, or simply as a manner of getting rich quickly. This type of theft hurts many people, as the victims are often not only inconvenienced, but so are their families and financial or personal institutions. This type of theft is difficult to detect, especially when it is perpetrated by experienced thieves, as they have developed advanced ways of moving without being detected.

Who are the victims? 

Sadly, there is no set target group for identity theft. People of all ages and financial and social classes as well as multiple races and ethnic groups are victims of identity theft every day. These victims are moms and dads, husbands and wives – they are neighbors and friends. Identity theft can happen at any time, so it is important to prepare in any way possible. In terms of protection, there are services like credit and identity monitors that can be used by anyone that desires them, and these services work around the clock to keep the information of users private and secure. By using things like these services, it is possible to save later time and effort, as well as to catch thieves before they are able to do a good deal of damage within individual accounts.

What types of information are targeted? 

The information that an identity thief is after will change depending on the type of thief it is and the information that they have access to. In some cases, the thieves are after money and credit cards; others are more interested in compromising the personal information of victims. When money is involved, the effects felt by the victims can be immediate and difficult to reverse – it often takes weeks to get money back, and sometimes months to get a change in credit score or status straightened out. When it comes to personal information, if someone is misusing a Social Security number or even a name, the victim (and real person) may be forced to put life decisions or changes like getting married or buying a home or getting a new job on hold until things are straightened out. While many people feel as if a financial theft would be more damaging, the two cases are actually quite similar in scope and lasting effects… and the thieves know it. In order to have a chance to fight back against these thieves, it’s imperative that people take the time and make the effort to implement some type of safety measure in order to protect themselves.

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