To Catch a Thief:
Prevent Identity Theft from
Happening to You
By Peter D’Arruda
past five years, over thirty-three million people have had their
identity stolen. People
need to realize that their most valuable possession is not their
house, car or antique jewelry collection. Your most valuable
possession is your identity. What would happen if someone stole it?
Five Types of Identity Theft:
people believe that identity theft is nothing more than someone
stealing your credit cards and racking up charges, the fact is that
identity theft has many forms and can do much more damage than simply
ruin your credit. As an identity theft victim, you could end up in
serious trouble with the IRS or even in jail.
1. DMV Records Identity Theft: An identity thief obtains a
driver’s license in your name and accumulates traffic tickets.
In some states, the thief can even vote in your name.
Approximately 15 to 16 million illegal aliens are in the United States, and most of these people have a driver’s license - a fake one.
This also happens when someone may not be allowed to have a
driver’s license anymore due to DUI charges, but he or she still
decides to drive - using a fake and stolen license.
thief gets lots of traffic violations in your name (even DUI charges)
and fails to pay those fines or appear in court, you who may get
arrested. Once the police
take your fingerprints and compare your image to the picture on the
driver’s license they have on file, they’ll realize it’s not
you, but by that time you may have already gone through much
embarrassment and aggravation.
yourself, pull your DMV record at least once a year to make sure you
don’t have any tickets on there that aren’t yours. Also check if
any duplicate licenses have been made for you that you haven’t
requested. DMV identity theft is the number one form of identity theft
2. Social Security Number Identity Theft: With this variation of
identity theft, a thief uses your social security number for work
purposes. The thief gets a job and puts your social security number as
theirs on their payroll forms. Why? Either they don’t have a real
social security number, possibly because they’re in the country
illegally, or they have government tax liens or child support liens on
their own social security number and don’t want to pay what
they’re obligated to pay. Further, the thief requests that the
employer withhold the minimum taxes allowed by law, or they make
arrangements to be on a 1099 status and have no taxes withheld at all.
file your taxes on time, you receive a letter from the IRS stating
that you failed to pay taxes on the income you earned while employed
at ABC Company. But you never worked at ABC Company; the identity
thief did. The IRS demands that you re-file your taxes and pay the
required taxes, plus penalties, on the income you didn’t declare. Fortunately,
you can easily prove that you never worked at ABC Company, but dealing
with the IRS can take a long time and requires a lot of paperwork.
Many people end up consulting with an attorney because this is not
something they want to handle on their own.
3. Medical Information Bureau Identity Theft: In order to prevent
insurance fraud, anytime you go to the doctor or fill a prescription,
it gets noted in your Medical Information Bureau (MIB) file. This
prevents people who are terminally ill from purchasing millions of
dollars of life insurance.
of identity theft, a thief uses your personal information to obtain a
prescription or medical care, thus putting the claim on your file.
These thieves are getting controlled substances and major medical
procedures that would make them uninsurable if they used their own MIB
file. Depending on the prescriptions, they may even be making you look
like a drug addict to the medical and insurance communities. To prevent this from happening to you, call toll-free 866-692-6901 and get a free copy of your MIB report.
If anything looks suspicious, contact the MIB immediately.
4. Character and Criminal Identity Theft: This form of identity
theft is an off-shoot of the DMV file theft. In this scenario, a thief
uses your identity to avoid fines or jail time. For example, someone
who already has a long police record gets arrested for felony robbery.
When the police pat him down, they find your identification. The thief
is arrested, has mug shots taken, and is fingerprinted—all in your
name. You, the law-abiding citizen, now have a criminal record. Later,
when you apply for a job or for credit, you learn that you did not get
the job or the loan because you have felony charges against you. The
only way to know if someone is posing as you to the police is to check
your criminal record.
5. Financial Identity Theft: This is the most publicized form of
identity theft, and is the easiest to fix. With financial identity
theft, someone steals your credit card numbers and uses them for
purchases, leaving you with the bill. Once you discover fraudulent
charges on your accounts, most credit card companies give you 60 days
to file a claim, and most times the credit card company will refund
the money to you. However, if someone steals your debit card, you
usually only have two days to report the fraudulent activity. Debit
card theft is more costly than credit card theft, because with a debit
card, someone can drain your account while you rack up bounced check
yourself, review your credit card and bank statements regularly. Also,
sign up for online banking with your financial institution so you can
monitor your bank account activity and be able to act on any
questionable items quickly.
Free Credit Reports: By now
you’ve likely seen the online pop-up ads for “free credit reports.”
Most of these offers require that you purchase or subscribe to
something in order to get your free report. To really access your
credit for free, call 877-322-8228.
are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three
credit reporting agencies, request one report from one agency every
four months rather than requesting all three at the same time. This
enables you to regularly
monitor your credit. All three agencies share information with each
other, so you’ll have a good idea of what’s going on with your
credit using this strategy.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Identity
theft is one of the fasting growing crimes in America. Don’t let yourself be the next victim. By knowing the various
forms of identity theft, you can take proactive steps to protect
yourself and your family, thus ensuring your peace of mind.
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