8 reasons YOU should take identity theft seriously

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It's tempting to imagine a world where consumers are safe from data breaches and scams.  That would be nice.  But that isn't the world we live in.  The world we live in has pitfalls and dangers, and unfortunately one of those messy and inconvenient dangers is identity theft.  Frankly, I find it dangerous and misleading to say that anyone can pick up the pieces--all on their own--after an identity theft.  It may be true, but it assumes that the victim--who could very easily be you--has the time and the energy and the knowledge to put all the pieces back together. 

If we are serious about thwarting all the many crimes that come under the heading of "identity theft," then we need to acknowledge that one or all of these crimes can happen to you, and that cleaning up after one happens is not as easy as you might think.

1. Identity theft is about more than just credit.

Sure, credit card fraud makes for entertaining commercials, like the one where the big sloppy guy sitting in his crummy apartment speaks with the voice of a teenage girl on a shopping spree.  But the use of a credit card number is just the tip of the identity theft iceberg.  Your medical records could be compromised, your Social Security number might be used fraudulently, your tax returns could be falsified--the list is endless!  The number of ways your privacy can be breached is staggering.  Are you ready to handle the fall-out if and when this happens to you? 

2. Criminals have the latest technology.

Phishing, smishing, vishing, skimming, spoofing, click-jacking, tab-napping, pharming--whatever you call it, it's bad news when it happens to you.  We all need snooping / scanning / sniffing technology that is just as good if not better.  Services that can now utilize up-to-the-minute technology to detect suspicious activity before the damage occurs, can go a long way in reducing the risk and impact of fraud.  

3. Identity theft impacts your pocketbook.

If you're looking to save money by cutting out services that are just not worth it, then you're like most consumers in this economy.  We're all strapped for cash.  But before you start cutting services, take a look at the financial toll an identity theft could take.  You could wind up paying higher insurance premiums, compromise your credit rating, sit in jail for a weekend, and even lose opportunities for jobs or housing-- all because your credit wasn't cleaned up promptly or correctly.  You can't afford to spend months or years battling with the credit bureaus to clean up the mess.

 4. Protecting and cleaning up after an identity theft takes time and know-how.

Don't let the media trivialize the time and effort it takes to protect and restore your identity once it has been compromised.  Identity theft victims--like me--can tell you how long and weary the road back to your pre-theft self can be.  I don't have the know-how to scour underground websites looking for my data being sold,  nor can I tell when someone else is completing an application for a payday loan or opening a cell phone account in my name -and neither can you.  But some companies today can. Do your research and make an informed decision on whether or not you find value in having id theft protection, monitoring and restoration services helping to protect your identity. 

5. Social networking is everywhere.

Peer-to-peer file-sharing is the wave of the future.  It's also an excellent way for personal information to make its way onto the Internet and into the hands of thieves.  Remember, just as cyber-sharing has exploded, so has cyber crime.  The need to protect your data has never been greater.

6. The best defense is a good offense.

You can't always avoid being a victim of a crime, fire or a storm, and you can't stop a determined identity thief either.  But you can take steps to lessen the impact an identity theft can have on your life--and you can take those steps BEFORE anything happens to you. Knowledge is power.

7. Time is money.

Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.  You could save money by not having insurance of any kind, but then when something happens (something always happens), you will be paying the high price of being unprepared.  You could be looking at higher interest rates and higher insurance premiums caused by the blow of an identity theft.  Is there enough stashed in your savings account to cover your expenses while the bank figures out what (and if) they have to pay back funds if your checking account is cleaned out?

8. Statistics don't lie.

It is more likely that you will be hit with an identity theft than that your car will be stolen.  Are you going to go cancel the theft part of your car insurance policy?  According to FBI statistics, identity theft is currently our nation's fastest growing crime. The Federal Trade Commission also reports that "identity theft/fraud" is the fastest-growing category of complaints the agency receives. 

Don't let wishful thinking blind you to the facts: it really CAN happen to you.

Think fraud. If not now, when?

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Last year we did a study to understand if people a) know what would happen to them if for example their credit card what stolen b) Do they know what to do if their ID was stolen

Sadly in both cases more than 90% of the people did not know what to do or what would happen.

Mush education is needed

perfectly said. ID theft can be life altering. We live in the 21st century and our laws laws need to catch up with the crooks who continue to invent new viruses and slippery scams!@ not enough being done about it by credit card companies who let anyone access our money. Thanks for this blog denise.

Sad to say but identity theft is really rampant now.
Really we have to be responsible in every action that we make. Be careful especially when giving out personal info.
Well, there's this blog that I've read. It will also help you to understand more about medical identity

Thanks for your advices. The trend now is not only about property or money theft anymore and I think that identity theft is much more dangerous impacts to the victims. I sympathize with your situation and I can imagine what you went through. How many months did you try to restore your records to their proper places? Did you spend a lot?

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