Identity theft is a serious problem in our world today. It affects millions upon millions of people each year on both sides of the globe and it has only become worse as people communicate more frequently through the Internet. The ease with which we can send emails, make online purchases, and bank online have allowed our lives to be much more efficient but it has also made us much more susceptible to identity theft and its terrible effects. With so much of our personal information out there in cyberspace, it doesn’t require much effort to gather enough information about a person and steal there identity.
However, these online identity theft problems are only a portion of the problem. Millions also suffer from identity thefts perpetrated in by other means. For example, many people experience identity thefts when someone steals their mail and then takes a pre-approved credit card offer. Many identity thieves also dig through people’s garbage and find documents that have been discarded. There are all sorts of different methods for stealing someone’s identity, and we need to learn about them so that it doesn’t happen to us. Just to give you a sense for how common identity theft is, and how terrible its affects are, read the following statistics:
1. For many victims it requires as much as three hundred and twenty hours to recover from an identity theft (on average). For many people it will require years to finally recover, both financially and psychologically from the effects of an identity theft.
2. As much as forty to fifty percent of those suffering from an identity theft do not know that the crime has been committed until three months after, and some take longer than four or five years to find out.
3. The costs of identity theft can be truly terrible. Check out these stats: something like fifty percent of victims find it very difficult to get loans or credit cards after an identity theft. Sixty or seventy percent of victims report that it is very difficult to finally expunge all of the negative report from their financial history. About forty or fifty percent of victims report feeling of extreme stress and disbelief as a result of identity theft.
4. A very disturbing statistic suggests that something like forty or fifty percent of victims claim to know the person who stole their identity.
5. About thirty percent of victims report that their identity theft occurred because of checking or bank fraud. Almost thirty percent also found that their identity was used to create a new cell phone account. The majority, however, find that the identity theft is used to obtain a new credit card.
Because identity theft is so difficult to prevent and investigate, police can usually only do so much to prevent it. With millions of cases each year there is little that local law enforcement can do to investigate the situation. The best policy is actually to avoid identity theft altogether by following some basic steps. First, make sure that you have anti spyware and phishing software on your computer. Second, never send personal information in an email and never purchase anything on a foreign website. Finally, protect your mail with a locking mailbox. Shred all personal papers that are not necessary and lock up those that you need. By following just these couple of rules we could almost totally drive away identity thieves and help to fight the war against identity theft. With some basic know how and good practices you can prevent yourself and your family from identity theft.