As a person who has been in the identity business for over 10 years and traveling around the mid-west giving identity theft workshops I wanted to pass along some educational material to the readers on identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft has been the NUMBER ONE consumer complaint for TWELVE consecutive years. Here are just a few facts:
• There are currently over 27,000 NEW identity theft victims EVERY DAY!
• Over 512 million Americans’ Identities have been reported lost or stolen since January 2010.
• Over 400,000 dead people opened bank accounts last year.
• The revenue from trafficking financial data has surpassed that of drug trafficking. – US Secret Service
• Over 3.5 million children have already fallen victim to identity theft in the US.
• “Identity Theft is poised to increase by a factor of 20 over the next two years. The criminals are still trying to figure out what to do with all the data.”
• You are THREE times more likely to have your identity stolen than you are to have your house or car broken into.
• The average dollar amount charged in Identity Theft: $92,893
• The average time taken by a victim to restore their identity is 607 hours.
• Most identity theft issues are non-credit related.
What most people don’t understand is that there are 6 common types of ID theft not to mention data breeches from companies large or small. The common types are: Character & Criminal, Employment, SSA & IRS related, Medical, Financial, Drivers License, and Minor Children & Elderly.
Each one of these has their own devastating results in lost time, money and peace of mind, but the real kickers are the medical and children areas. With medical, a person’s id is used to get medical treatment. While that is bad enough, it isn’t as bad as your medical records getting changed. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard on this. Just imagine, if you were killed in an accident and the insurance company wouldn’t pay out to your spouse because you had an illness like AIDS that you didn’t report, because you didn’t know this was on your record. And with children, it could take up to 18 years for them to find out that they are victims. Only 17% of this crime is credit card and financial in nature but your information is a gold mine to these thieves. Not only will identity hurt an individual and their families but their job performance as well because it takes time to clean up after becoming a victim. The worst part is not finding out you are a victim but what you have to do afterwards. I urge people and maybe companies to get some sort of protection or learn the various ways they can protect themselves. There are great tips from the FTC, FBI, IRS, WI DATCP web sites not to mention tips on search engines. In looking at protection there are some great plans on the market. However I would never pay for a fraud alert service because if nothing else I can do that myself, not to mention it is somewhat restrictive.
• Monitoring Plans
• Reimbursement Plans
• Fraud Alert Services
• Restoration and Legal Plans
I have found that identity theft can also lead to many legal issues so you need to consider these possible side effects: Criminal Charges, Arrests (imagine getting your door busted open at 2AM by the SWAT team because you committed a crime), Lawsuits, Garnishments, Civil Litigations and even IRS Audits. Remember one thing, with Identity Theft, YOU ARE GUILTY until proven innocence. There are thousands of stories of people getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation and the next thing they know they are in jail for some reason unbeknown to them. There was one story of a guy in Texas, got pulled over, and arrested for a crime in another state. The police sent him to this state and he spent several weeks in jail until the local authorizes there realized that this was the wrong man. So please take these crimes seriously and protect yourself.