Saturday, April 23, 2005

Identity Theft: Education is the Key

Identity Theft: What do you know about this widespread epidemic?

Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Over 10,000,000 victims were reported to the FTC last year. According to the Aberdeen Group’s May 13, 2003 report, Identity Theft is growing at a rate of 300% compounded annually and will become a $2 trillion criminal industry by the end of 2005. These statistics dictate over 1,100 victims per hour or over 3 times the number of household burglaries per year.

Most people have locks on their doors. We almost all have some type of anti-virus software on our computers. What’s the point? We all see the reality of these risks and prepare ourselves proactively. Yet, most people have no idea how bad identity theft is and what they can do proactively prepare themselves.

You will find this blog to help you better understand this crime and help you to become proactive.

Here’s what the average person thinks about identity theft:

1. It has only to do with my credit cards.

2. I won’t be held accountable for debts incurred in my name.

3. It will never happen to me.

4. What criminal would want to commit identity theft in my name? I’m broke.

It’s important to understand two key elements in regard to identity theft:

1. How criminals acquire your information.

2. What criminals can do with your information after they have acquired it.

Consider the following examples:

If someone 1,000 miles away from where you live used your name to get an HIV test that came up positive, would you even know? When was the last time you looked at the details of your medical record?

For example, what happens when you go to buy or increase your life insurance policy? You lose because the MIB information on file will guarantee you won't get the policy.

Who would you call and what would you do?

Your evil twin goes into Circuit City to buy a plasma TV. The statements for the new credit account aren't sent to you. Why? So you won't know until 6 to 12 to 18 months down the road and won't catch onto the activity in your credit file.