Deter, Detect, Defend Identity Theft
This is the slogan that the FTC uses in the U.S. government’s central website for information about identity theft. In their campaign to inform US citizens, they use the words Deter, Detect, Defend. Can you really Deter, Detect, Defend Identity Theft?
To a degree you can, but we are going to give you some more information here to educate you even more. Even though you might be able to Deter, Detect, Defend, you can’t stop it from happening to you. I would also WARN YOU that the FTC is not giving you all the facts of this fastest growing crime and what you need to do!
Identity Theft is costing consumers and businesses about $50,000,000,000 annually. That’s 50 Billion Dollars!
Here’s a FTC video that shows you what they are recommending:
Although we typically look at identity theft as a financial issue, it is much more. Basically there are 5 areas of identity theft you should be aware of. They are as follows:
- Financial Identity Theft
- Medical Identity Theft
- Character / Criminal Identity Theft
- Drivers License Identity Theft
- Social Security Identity Theft
- Synthetic Identity Theft (A combination of the five and potentially one of the hardest to identify)
Now that we know it’s more than just financial like your banks are telling you, let’s drive a little deeper into the facts.
Deter – There are a lot of steps you can take to deter identity theft, but the facts are, your information is already out there and no matter what you do personally, you can still become a victim. The FTC tells you in the above video to make sure that you don’t carry around personal information in your wallet, shred your personal documents before throwing it in the trash and watch your mailbox.
Are you kidding me! Crooks have become much more sophisticated these days and there are easier ways to get your personal information. Your Name, Address, Drivers License number, Social Security number and much more of your personal data is stored in folders, on copier machines and also on computers all over the place.
Places such as government agencies, utility companies, schools you have attended, financial institutions such as banks, mortgage companies and credit card companies, car dealerships, hospitals, doctor offices and many more all have your personal information on file.
Let’s just say you take all the proper steps to protect your identity from getting in the wrong hands. Now you have to make sure all of these above institutions take the same necessary precautions. There are steps that the government is putting in place called the “RED FLAG Rule“, but it will not be a catch-all defense to keep identity theft from happening to you.
Detect – Detection is the key, but sometimes it is easier said then done. With some forms of identity theft, it is much easier for you to monitor. For an example, if you become a victim of identity theft with your own personal credit card, either you or your credit card company will probably notice something unusual and be warned right away. Financial identity theft is something that is usually noticed right away because you get monthly bills or the financial institution notifies you when something is out of the norm. In most cases, financial institutions are doing this to protect their own interests, not yours.
Now let us look at detection from another angle. Imagine someone opened up a brand new credit card in your name and had the bills sent to another address. Your bank isn’t going to inform you of this situation until that person hits your credit limit and doesn’t pay the bill. By the way, it is up to you to inform any institution that this financial debt is not yours within 60 days or you become obligated for that debt.
Say someone commits a crime in your name like drunk-driving or even shoplifting. They are arrested and use your information as theirs while being processed. Then it’s time for them to appear in court and they don’t show up for their hearing. Guess who shows up at your house or guess what happens the next time you are pulled over for a moving violation?
I’m not saying that it can’t be sorted out after the fact, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to know what’s going on with your identity before something like this does happen?
Defend – When people use the words such as “defend and protect” when talking about identity theft, it makes me cringe. People and services talk about protecting/defending you from identity theft when you really can’t stop it 100%. Different companies use these words as a sales pitch to make you feel comfortable.
Can these people really PROTECT you and your family? NO! This is “Not the Case” and we want to make sure that you don’t become misled by this false advertising.
There is no way to 100% defend or protect yourself from identity theft. As I have mentioned above, your information is already out there and there is nothing you can do to keep it from falling in the wrong hands. How you can defend/protect yourself, and I use those two words rather loosely, is to actively monitor your information.
The government has given you the right to review your credit report once a year at no charge which is a good start. Even though people are taking advantage of this free report, it falls about 10 times short of what they should be doing. In order for you to minimize the affects of being a victim, you must be aware of all changes to your reports immediately as they happen. This puts you in control and you can take the necessary steps before it become too devastating. That being the case, you need to take precautionary actions and have a service that monitors your personal information daily and not just annually.
As mentioned above, there is nothing you can do to 100% Deter, Detect, Defend Identity Theft PERIOD Our government is doing what they can, but this crime is much bigger than what they are reporting it to be. Your information is already out there floating in cyberspace at all the places I mentioned above where your personal information is on file.
This post is being provided to you so that you will have a better understanding of how such a crime could impact your life. Please don’t be ignorant on this critical issue like so many people out there and bury your head in the sand when it comes to identity theft. I hear this statement all the time. “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Financial Identity Theft – Someone runs up over $100,000 of debt in your name. After 60 days you become financially responsible for that debt. Really? “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Medical Identity Theft – Someone that has HIV got a hold of your medical information and has changed all of your information to theirs in your medical records. They changed your blood type, had an operation done that cost $45,000 and also changed your address so that you don’t become aware of this change in your records. Really? “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Character / Criminal Identity Theft – Someone opens up a child pornography website in your name. They clone and route everything through your IP Address. Really? “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Drivers License Identity Theft – Imagine a person gets some of your other personal information and then get a drivers license in your name with your address and their photo. Now they can open new accounts, get a DUI and the list goes on… Really? “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Social Security Identity Theft – 20 illegal aliens are all working under your social security number and they never paid a single dime in taxesWho is the IRS trying to collecgt from? Really? “If someone wants my identity, they can have it!”
- Synthetic Identity Theft- This one is a post all by itself!
Now, do you really want someone to have your identity?
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