The Federal Trade Commission recently released a survey showing that 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the last five years, including 9.9 million people in the last year alone. Identity theft is a crime so widespread, with an impact so great that more than ten million people were victims in 2002 alone, for a total loss of over $53 billion dollars. Almost 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year. According to the survey, last year's identity theft losses to consumer victims was reportedly $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses losses to businesses and financial institutions totalled nearly $48 billion.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. The Federal Trade Commission defines identity theft as stealing personal information such as your name, credit card number, driver's license number, or other personal identifying information to commit fraud.
Your Identity can be stolen through:
- Stealing your purse or wallet
- Fraudulently accessing your credit report by posing as an employer, loan officer or landlord calling you on the phone, posing as a solicitor in order to gain personal information including your name, date of birth, social security number
- "Shoulder surfing" at automated teller machines (ATMs) and phone booths to capture your personal identification numbers (PINs)
- Information from internet accessible records
- Stealing mail to get newly issued credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information
- Credit card and loan applications discarded
The identity thieves use your name to:
- Apply for telephone service
- Apply for credit cards or loans
- Buy merchandise
- Lease cars or apartments
- Obtain medical care
- Assume your identity
- Live and work under your name
If you are a victim of identity theft, had your credit merged with someone else's or just want the inaccuracies off your credit, call us Toll-Free at (800) 737-2345 for:
- More information on how to proceed
- Specific actions that must be taken by the CRA's and your creditors under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Legal assistance for fair treatment