Identity is actually a much more complicated topic than it may first appear. Identity is made up of three components: identity from nature; identity from status; and, identity from behavior. Identity from nature includes characteristics that are passed by birth from a parent to a child, for example finger prints and DNA. Identity from status refers to things that are assigned by another person, like your social security number, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. Things like criminal records and credit ratings make up your identity from behavior. With so many things to account for when considering your total identity, it becomes clear why it is so important to protect from identity theft.
With so many aspects to your identity, it stands to reason that there are many ways to commit identity theft and many types of individuals who commit this type of crime. You may be surprised to learn that about a third of identity thefts are committed by someone close to the victim–friends or family members. Other identity criminals are essentially amateurs or opportunists, such as an unscrupulous individual who may find a wallet or credit card that you left behind at a gas station. There are also professional identity thieves who may work alone, but more likely as a part of a syndicate or other organization that has the full time function of collecting and exploiting valuable personal information.
Identity theft protection is clearly important, given the complex nature of your identity and the varied types and large numbers of individuals who may exploit your identity, either by opportunity or by a very sophisticated design. It is important to take a few steps to protect yourself from opportunists by locking up documents like your birth certificate and social security card. It is also a good idea to carry only the credit or debit cards you plan to use for the day. Identity Guard® will provide you with tools to protect your online information, such as anti-virus and anti-malware software, and can also send you prompt alerts when certain changes to your credit information is detected. This is a very important protection because professional thieves often utilize automated processes that rely heavily on unsecured electronic data.