Every year something like two hundred and twenty billion dollars are lost in identity theft. Identity theft come out of nowhere and destroys millions of lives and families throughout the world. It happens to both rich and poor with equally devastating consequences. The invention of the Internet has many benefits, but it has also resulted in a general increase in the amount of identity theft. Personal information is easy to obtain when people are sending it for free all over cyberspace. Many identity thefts occur when someone sends an email to an innocent citizen asking for identity information. You might think that you would never fall for this type of scam, but millions upon millions of people have done so over the past several years. Although Internet identity theft has become a more and more serious problem, identity theft also occurs through many other methods. Hundreds of thousands of families have their identities stolen through mail fraud and by people digging through their garbage to recover personal information. Identity theft can be as easy as someone taking a pre-approved credit card offer out of your mail and activating it. Another problem associated with identity theft is the difficulty associated with punishing it and stopping it from occurring. Check out these disturbing statistics about victims of identity theft and those who try to help them:
1. About fifty or sixty percent of police departments report responding to complaints of identity theft. This might sound good, but realize that this means that almost fifty percent of all other victims don’t get any help.
2. Most victims suggest that it is very difficult to contact a credit agency after an identity theft has seriously disturbed their credit rating. They often have to live with terrible credit for much of the rest of their lives and live with the consequences. Only about twenty percent of victims report a credit agency taking the bad credit information off their record. Most victims also suggest that they have to make requests and send information to credit agencies several times before they see any positive response.
Something like ten million families suffer the consequences of identity theft every year. Many lose several thousand dollars worth of wages and have to spend hundreds of hours attempting to recover their lost earnings. In some cases identity theft can literally take the bread out of a family’s mouth, and some people have to declare bankruptcy after an identity theft. Because the problem is so severe you need to know how to protect your family from it. Always be cautious with your personal information when doing anything online. Don’t respond to any emails requesting any information, even if they appear to come from good friends or family members. Watch out for purchasing anything at a little known site or one that does not have a secure payment method. Purchase a mailbox with a lock on it and try to destroy or shred all documents that will be going into your garbage.
As the above statistics illustrate, once an identity theft has been perpetrated it will be very difficult to get things back to normal. You will have to spend years restoring your credit and lost income. Law enforcement will probably have a difficult time finding the perpetrator and punishing them. Because of the difficulty associated with punishing the crime you will not have the satisfaction of justice. What all of this suggests is that we need to be careful about identity theft and stay informed. Be smart and through a few basic practices you can help win the war against identity theft.