Identity theft is a crime where an imposter obtains important personal information related to one’s identification, and uses it for one purpose or the other. For example, stealing one’s driver’s license, Social Security Number etc., in order to impersonate them. Another name for identity theft is known as identity fraud, and surprisingly identity theft is a common problem.
There are many types of identity thefts, each having their own risks to a person. The most common are criminal identity theft and financial identity theft amongst others.
Here we will look at the risks associated with above kinds of identity thefts.
Criminal Identity Theft
You see yourself driving down the road one day and suddenly you’re stopped by a police officer. You believe it’s a routine traffic check, he’ll ask for your identification and why you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, the usual questions. Instead, he tells you to get out of your car, put your hands on the roof and then cuffs you. Innocent people are arrested this way everyday and this is because of someone having access to their identity information. This is criminal identity theft, where a person uses your identity to commit crimes.
Due to this, violations committed by the other person end up being added onto your police record, without you being aware of any of it. The crime can be anything, something as common as traffic violations, and something as serious as a misdemeanor.
You may not even find this out until it is too late, i.e: until the police reaches you. Then proving your identity was stolen is another battle.
Another problem this can cause is when your potential employer run a check on you and find offences in your record. This can reflect negatively on your reputation and causes you issues. This is why you should keep an eye on your own police record and take a quick action if you see anything out of the ordinary.
Financial Identity Theft
Once someone has access to your personal information, such as your Social Security Number, it becomes easy for them to commit financial identity theft. It has been found that every year, over 15 million Americans are a victim of such identity theft. They are reported to have incurred financial losses close to 50 billion dollars in total, and the number is on a constant rise. The financial loss incurred to each person on average is approximately 3,500 dollars.
Such thefts do not only result in a loss of money, but time as well. It takes a person around 25 hours of constant work to be able to recover damages, which is not always a success.
Furthermore, once an imposter has all the identification they need to access your account, they start siphoning all the money out of it or use it to commit fraud. For instance they might be able to create another account for a credit card under your name. They may then use this credit card to pay their bills, buy their miscellaneous items or whatever they desire. In the end you will be held liable for not paying the amount which piled up on that credit card.
Identity theft is a major cause of difficulty in many people’s lives. It isn’t the fault of the state that this crime is so common, rather it is our own. This is because we don’t enforce proper countermeasures against such crimes. We leave our bills or cheque books just lying around, which may as well contain our social security and account numbers. In addition to this, we also often end up using our personal information online, which may reach unsafe hands.
Be careful who you give access to your personal information in order to be safe and secure.