The Basics of Identity Theft - Everything You Have to Know

Computers & TechnologySite Security

  • Author Gus Welde
  • Published December 4, 2010
  • Word count 515

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is defined as the use of private information, including one's name or bank account details, to be able to commit fraud or a different type of crime.

Thieves can steal your identity in a number of approaches. When you convey financial or other sensitive data to a merchant's web site through an unsecured Internet connection, identity thieves can also quickly obtain it. Many do not realize that identity theft does not necessarily require technology. One's identity can be robbed easily by thieves sifting through your garbage, the trash cans of a shop or other company or a public dump site.

Similarly, an identity thief can contact you posing as a bank employee or a landlord and persuade you to supply sensitive information such as your Social Security Number. An identity thief also can purchase your personal data that you supply on financial applications or other documents from retail clerks and others who have a authentic reason to have it.

Moreover, you could be surprised to learn that social networking web-sites -- where users have a tendency to share personal content including their name and address -- are also fishing grounds for identity thieves.

Getting your identity stolen can have broad implications. It can require years to fix your credit history after your personal data has been wrongfully utilized. However identity theft can have a undesirable impact on more than your finances. Investing hours on the telephone with various individuals and being required to explain your predicament to every single new individual you communicate with will be very stressful, taking a psychological toll on you. Even after you have managed the situation, you will need to discuss the incident whenever you submit an application for a bank loan or a new job, both of which usually will need background checks to be conducted.

Services that monitor your credit report may not detect illegal use of your social security number. Nor will they necessarily detect illegal real estate and utilities transactions, fraudulent use of health insurance or other illegal activity. Given that only roughly 15 percent of identity theft is credit-related, it is essential to also safeguard yourself from non-credit-related varieties of fraud. And given that clearing up your credit score following identity theft is typically a challenging and extended process, requiring preemptive actions to stop identity criminals is a valuable investment.

Identity protection programs constantly monitor and analyze a range of data in order to recognize suspicious activity and identify fraud before it occurs. They do so by creating a database containing data including your name, contact data, social security number, loan and credit information. Complex algorithms operate to identify fraud, identifying your chance for becoming the victim of fraudulent activity and informing you of any suspicious activities.

Extra features make it possible for the service to notify you any time an organization or institution which has your personal information on file has encountered a security breach in order that you can take appropriate actions quickly. Moreover, such services suggest measures you can consider to remedy a possible problem.

Gus Welde is a consumer advocate and author focusing on modern day dangers to our security, including identity theft, computer crime and Internet safety. In addition, he reviews consumer products and services to help protect people from today's threats to their security and identity. Mr. Welde presently writes for Identity-Aware in Washington, DC. Learn more at

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