This is the second in a series of articles which will increase your awareness about Identity Theft. According to studies, there were around 10 million American victims of identity theft in the year 2003 alone. That was 5 years ago. You can expect the number to have risen over the years.
Individuals who find themselves victim to this kind of crime will go through much suffering. Not only have they lost their identity, they have probably lost financially as well and they will also have to endure long hours patiently trying to re establish their hard earned credit ratings.
Since Identity Theft, shows no signs of either being slowed down or even being stopped soon, early detection is the only solution available to you if you want to avoid the risk of becoming an Identity Theft victim.
How these “thieves” obtain your personal information is easy enough. It can be as easy as someone fishing through your thrash, especially made easier for them by municipalities that provide “Blue Boxes” or such like to enable you to recycle your paper, someone watching you punch in your pin number at an ATM machine or Debit Card reader or sending emails that look legitimate, to which you respond.
Once thieves obtain your personal information, they can change your billing address. You will not be aware of this until you realize that your bills are no longer being mailed to you.
Below are sure signs that you are, or are about to become, an identity theft victim.
Upon checking your credit reports, you find that there are some new charge cards issued by companies you do not know anything about. You might not pay attention to errors on your Bank Statement or Credit Card Statement because you think that your bank just made some mistakes in your billing and they will be corrected later. You are receiving bills for new credit card accounts that you did not open. On many occasions, these accounts are opened by spouses, so be very careful. You are receiving calls from business owners regarding items that they said you bought but you actually do not have any idea about. Debts are starting to show on your credit report and you find yourself being denied renewal Cards or loans.
If you are beginning to notice these things, or any similar irregularities, you need not panic at first. Just consider that there might be some logical explanation for this. But if there is not, then report these things immediately, and follow up to see that your report has been acted upon.
Remember to keep a close watch on your credit card activities. Your Credit Card is not necessarily needed to make purchases over the telephone or over the internet.
It is a well known fact that the majority Credit Card holders do not scrutinize their billing statement each month. This makes it easier for identity thieves to get away with hundreds or even thousands of dollars of purchases on your card.
Identity thieves may not only be spending all your money, they may also be using your available credit to buy items and merchandise. The bottom line is that not only are they getting the money you have worked so hard for, but they are also destroying the credit ratings you have tried so hard to establish and maintain.
Another step to take so you will not become an identity theft victim is to make payments in safe places. With thieves, you can never tell. They might appear as bystanders minding their own business but are actually looking closely when you start writing out personal details, using personal codes at machines and even when talking at Bank counters or to staff at the bank.
Be one step ahead of them by thinking what other strategies they can use in stealing your identity. Be wary of persons you are next to when shopping and when paying bills. You might be taken advantage right there and then.
Although trusting other people is a must, you just have to choose very carefully the persons to whom you will give your trust. Strangely many identity thieves are people who you do trust, like family, close friends and co workers.