Identity Theft: Why is it so Terrifying?

Identity theft: a more and more frequently used buzzword in today’s highly digital society.

Why is it so terrifying? Even the term is a bit misleading, because the thief does not assume a person’s identity, he only steals access to information.  A less ambiguous moniker for the crime would be identity fraud; because the thief tricks not only the victim, but also banks, and anyone else he uses the victim’s money to purchase items from.  Identity theft occurs when someone obtains personal information without permission, in order to use it to commit fraud or other crimes.  Itidentity theft is as dangerous and destructive as it sounds.  Identity theft affects millions of Americans.  According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 9 million Americans are defrauded of their personal information every year by identity theft.  The FTC announced that identity theft was the number one consumer complaint in 2011, which makes it top the list for the twelfth year in a row.

Wage-related fraud has spiked in recent years.  15% of complaints were related to identity theft, of those, a quarter were about tax-or wage-related fraud.  This insidious form of crime involves the criminal stealing personal information and using it to apply for a job.  Among the other benefits of working under an assumed name, the charlatan is able to shirk tax responsibilities on his income.  The victim, on the other hand, finds the imposter’s bills on his tax forms.  Usually this type of fraud is not discovered until tax season, which gives the thief plenty of time to cover his tracks.  The thief will often employ the victim’s social security number in order to carry out the heist.  Steven Toporoff, an attorney in the FTC recommends, among other things, that consumers shred important documents before discarding them.

Identity thieves utilize a variety of methods to gain access to one’s personal information.  One of their preferred methods is dumpster diving, though they due resort to skimming, phishing, pretexting, address changes, and of course, plain old stealing.   Identity thieves can attack from almost any direction.  They can delve through dumpsters looking for information. They can store credit card numbers after being swiped.  They can send spam, divert mail, or steal purses, but the easiest breach in security to take advantage of is you!  Be prepared for and aware of identity fraud, no matter the type.  Keep track of your personal information, and respond to suspicious activity quickly and decisively.

No protection can replace old fashion vigilance and diligence.  Identity theft doesn’t simply affect one’s wallet.  Identity theft can damage credit and destroy reputations.  A business thrives by its reputation so it is paramount that businesses, as well as individuals, protect their information, and the information of their clients, by shredding financial documents and other important papers properly.  Think you have too much volume to shred?  You don’t have the time?  Do you often wonder if it will matter?  Rest assured, shredding is important and it can be managed efficiently and effectively by the dedicated individuals employed by Tarheel Imaging and Microfilming.