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Are you Safe from Identity Theft?

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How will you feel if you will be arrested for a crime that you have now committed? How will you feel if you will be receiving a call from one of your creditors and telling you to pay your credit amounting to a particular amount, whereas you do not even use your credit card yet for that particular month?

Maybe you will answer those questions when you become a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft is said to be a “perfect crime”. Everybody can be a victim. Learning about the crime is the best thing that you can do right now. Remember, there are millions of victims every year.

If you have not become a victim of identity theft, then do not take any risk. Keep in mind the fact that it is nearly impossible to reinstate your life once a thief takes over your identity.

Identity theft refers to a type of crime, which someone portrays himself as another person by using the latter’s identifying information for various reasons. It may be for the purpose of a criminal activity or a financial gain.

The data that may be used includes the victim’s complete name, date of birth, and an array of closely related information like social security number, passport, license number, and credit card number.

The thief can use any of the stolen information to take over the financial accounts of his victim (bank and credit accounts), apply for loans, and purchase important items and services.

He can also avail medical benefits, education assistance, and personal pensions by creating or forging birth certificates or immigration documents, which can be presented to the agency who gives such assistance.

Perpetrators engage in this crime wants to either mislead law enforcers as to whom the real perpetrator is, or hide from the pursuit of the authorities. Others want to have control over publicly financed benefits to which they would not be entitled if they signed up under their original name. Some uses identity theft to facilitate large crimes like human trafficking and terrorism acts.

Victims almost extend across all ages. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 29 percent of identity theft complaints are from individuals of age 18-29, 25 percent from individuals of age 30-39, 21 percent from individuals of age 40-49, 13 percent from individuals of age 50-59, and the remaining 10 percent from individuals of age 60 and above. Usual targets of thieves are average-incoming individuals and those having a good credit rating.

Corporations, small enterprises, and financial institutions can also be potential victims of identity. Thieves can disguised themselves as top executives of their target company then making some huge withdrawal of funds, which can result to financial loss, damage to reputation and credibility, and possible closure of operation.

Modern identity theft is committed by means of gaining access to electronic data systems, forging identification documents of the victim (birth certificate or citizenship documents), getting new credit accounts, and charging existing accounts improperly.

The advancement of technology also enables perpetrators with computer hacking skills to infiltrate low-restricted public database and possibly cracking vital government database system.

Protecting yourself from identity theft is the best way to avoid the possible aftermaths you may experience. Remember that perpetrators do not select victims. Celebrities, business executives, politicians, and ordinary citizens in varying ages can be a potential victim.

You cannot totally protect yourself from these thieves, but you can take measures by making yourself less attractive as a potential victim and hiding all the possible sources of your personal information. Here are some things that you can keep in mind:

• When making transactions, always indicate your identification numbers such as social security number, make sure that it is required. Do not give it unless it is necessary.

• Destroy unwanted previous credit card or bank statements. You can either burn it or have yourself a mail shredder. Shred any sensitive documents first before throwing it to the garbage can.

• Do not place any other information beside your name and address in your checks.

• Carry personal cards that are only necessary and will be used for transactions for a particular day. Once lost, it can be possibly found by others and use it to steal your identity.

• Review your credit reports regularly. Make sure that you know all the transactions that you have made and look for any possible unauthorized transactions made to your creditors.

• Never divulge personal information on the phone. One typical modus operandi of thieves is through disguising themselves as a representative of a financial institution. He will then offer that you can update your records with them.

It is possible that they are recording your conversation and eventually get all the personal information from you.

• Always clear your mailbox. If you are on a trip, ask your neighbor to clear your mailbox for you.

The threat is there. All you have to do is to have knowledge about this crime and protect yourself against it. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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