A Publication of WTVP

Identity theft continues to become a larger problem in our society today. Through resources like the Identity Theft Resource Center and, I have been able to provide the following information. Identity theft or fraud is the taking of a victim’s identity to obtain credit from banks and retailers, steal money from existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy or obtain a job using the victim’s name. Recently, criminals have been using victims’ identities to commit crimes ranging from traffic infractions to felonies.

There are four types of identity theft crime:

  1. Financial ID theft. This type of case typically focuses on your name and Social Security number. This person may apply for telephone service, credit cards or loans, buy merchandise, lease cars or apartments.
  2. Criminal ID theft. The imposter in this crime provides the victim’s information instead of his or her own when stopped by law enforcement. Eventually when the warrant for arrest is issued, it is in the name of the person issued the citation—yours.
  3. Identity cloning. In this crime the imposter uses the victim’s information to establish a new life. They work and live as you. Examples: illegal aliens, criminals avoiding warrants, people hiding from abusive situations or becoming a “new person” to leave behind a poor work and financial history.
  4. Business or commercial identity theft. Businesses are also victims of identity theft. Typically, the perpetrator gets credit cards or checking accounts in the name of the business. The business finds out when unhappy suppliers send collection notices or their business rating score is affected.

Criminals can gather your information from many different places. Your doctor, accountant, lawyer, dentist, school, place of work, health insurance carrier and many others have your identifying information. If this information is not disposed of properly, a criminal could pick up the information and commit a crime against you.

You do not need to lose your wallet or have anything tangible stolen from you for someone to take your identity. If you don’t shred your confidential information, utility bills, credit card slips and other documents, it is easy to obtain. As soon as you are made aware of the fraud (usually a creditor will contact you, you will be denied credit, or you will see charges that are not yours on bills), you must immediately contact the three major credit reporting agencies by phone and letter to put a fraud alert on your credit profile. Get copies of the reports so that you will know which are the fraudulent accounts, and call law enforcement in the county where the fraud occurs. You may not be able to stop the fraud immediately.

Many insurance companies offer coverage to help with repairing your identity. The average cost to fix a person’s identity is $15,000. For a very minimal premium, you can add this coverage to your insurance policy. Please contact your local insurance professional to discuss this potential exposure. iBi