Because identity theft is fast becoming one of America’s most popular crimes, it deserves a section entirely dedicated to the facts surrounding it.
Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse states that of the nearly 60,000 people reported being victims of identity theft between November 1999 and May 2001, credit-card fraud was the most common complaint.
— More than half the victims were between the ages of 17 and 40.
The U.S. government has a central website for information about identity theft. This site is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission and provides an excellent chart for your use that you can view below. Also visit their site athttp://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ for more information.
How Identity Theft Occurs
Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods – low- and hi-tech – to gain access to your data. Here are some of the ways impostors can get your personal information and take over your identity.
How identity thieves GET your personal information:
They steal wallets and purses containing your identification and credit and bank cards.
They steal your mail, including your bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, telephone calling cards and tax information.
They complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location. They rummage through your trash, or the trash of businesses, for personal data in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”
They fraudulently obtain your credit report by posing as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legitimate need for – and a legal right to – the information.
They get your business or personnel records at work.
They find personal information in your home.
They use personal information you share on the Internet.
They buy your personal information from “inside” sources.
For example, an identity thief may pay a store employee for information about you that appears on an application for goods, services or credit.
How identity thieves USE your personal information:
They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there’s a problem.
They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and SSN. When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
They establish phone or wireless service in your name.
They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
They file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
They counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
They buy cars by taking out auto loans in your name.
It is important to explain to your child how identity theft can happen, how to prevent it and what to do if she suspects it has occurred.