According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, more than 11 million people find themselves victims of identity theft each year. Identity thieves costs businesses billions of dollars, and targeted individuals often lose thousands of dollars as predators use stolen information to open credit cards, buy various items, seek medical treatment, and commit greater crimes. These thieves do more than just steal credit card numbers and rack up charges; they can steal your name and your social security number too. Once an identity thief gets ahold of and uses your information, you could quickly find yourself in a huge personal, financial, and legal mess. Read on for advice on how to protect yourself from would-be identity thieves.
Understanding Identity Theft
The first step in preventing identity theft is understanding what it is and how it happens. This includes learning about the different types of identity theft and how identity thieves can use the information they obtain. It also includes knowing the traits of an identity thief and understanding that even people you are close to can steal your identity.
Understanding Identity Theft – PayPal sees numerous cases of identity theft each year and created this guide to help its customers understand the risks.
Preventing Identity Theft
Preventing identity theft involves keeping your personal information safe and out of the hands of potential identity thieves. Many of the steps designed to prevent identity theft do not require you to spend any money, nor do they take much time to complete. Identity thieves are found in many different places and it can be costly to assume that your sensitive information is safe or that you will never become a victim of identity theft.
Staying on top of your credit report and other financial accounts is one of the keys to preventing identity theft. Knowing the current status of your credit also helps you catch any issues before they escalate. If you are diligent about this awareness, but for some individuals it may pay to enlist the help of a credit monitoring service. These are designed to alert consumers whenever suspicious activity appears on their credit reports.
Identity thieves are slick. Even if you take measures to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft, it could still happen. Should identity theft happen to you, it helps to know where to turn. This includes knowing who to notify and the steps to take to get your name cleared. It also includes knowing what your rights are so that you can avoid paying debts amassed under fraudulent means, and to prevent punishment from crimes and other actions done in your name.