Identity theft is a serious problem in our day and age. The invention of the Internet has made it increasingly easy to obtain people’s personal information. There is so much personal information out there and it is there for the taking. All that needs to happen is for someone to send you an email disguised as something else requesting information. Hackers find ways to break into email accounts and steal our personal information. Millions of dollars are lost every year due to these sorts of problems. However, the Internet is only one place that identity theft occurs. You cannot become lazy about all of the other ways and places where identity theft commonly occurs. Many people have experienced identity theft at the mailbox, which occurs when someone steals your mail and gets personal information out of it. Others are willing to literally dig through your garbage to find old bank statements or pre-approved credit card offers. An identity thief will go to almost any length to get your information, although it is not very difficult in the age of the Internet. Others have an identity theft perpetrated with a regular break in. That’s right, on top of taking your television, stereo, and power tools, a thief could also steal important personal documents and plague you for years.
What is more, most people do not find out about an identity theft until some time after it has occurred, making it very difficult to detect and punish. Something like ten million Americans have identity thefts perpetrated against them every year. Of these, about forty to forty five percent do not know that the theft has occurred until three months after the initial incident. Another fifteen to twenty percent do not know about it for as much as four years or longer! What this tends to suggest is that an identity thief can be quite sneaky about the way they spend your money or tarnish your reputation. They might do it in little bits and pieces, taking a little bit here and a little bit there. They won’t always spend thousands of dollars in one goâ€”it could be that each incident is simply ten or twenty dollars. This also means that the identity theft could go on for years without you noticing it.
Another interesting statistic regards the amount of time required to repair an identity theft. The emotional and psychological strain cannot be recovered, but the financial burden usually takes something like three hundred and thirty hours to recover from! Many victims report spending something like five or six months to get back on their feet. Five or six months!
These statistics speak volumes about the dangers of identity theft and the severity of the problem. Realize that an identity theft could be much worse than the average theft. It can go on for years and it could easily destroy your credit rating. Because the consequences can be so severe, you need to learn how to protect yourself. Be sure to never send personal information in the form of emails and only buy things from sites that you know are legitimate and that have secure payment methods. Watch your mail and be sure to shred all documents you don’t need. Some friends have bought small safes and kept their personal papers in themâ€”probably a great idea. With only a few basic precautions you can protect yourself and your family from the terrible scourge that is identity theft. Be smart, stay informed, and you will avoid what has harmed so many honest people.