What is Identity Theft?

There’s some debate among industry professionals regarding what exactly defines identity theft, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to be very general. I don’t care how the identity information was obtained or whether the identity thief successfully committed fraud, because, frankly, that doesn’t matter to the victim. As far as I’m concerned:

Identity theft is any attempt to steal, borrow, or simply use someone’s identity information with the intent of committing fraud.

Some professionals will argue that the means by which identity information is obtained determines whether or not identity theft actually occurred…for instance, if you give your friend the login information for your bank account so they can check your balance for you, and then your friend uses that information to steal money, some people will say that’s not true identity theft, because your friend didn’t actually steal your identity information.

But that’s just semantics. Whether you gave up that information willingly or not, it’s been used to commit fraud. And now you have to deal with it. That’s identity theft!

So what can we do about it?

The goal of this website is to help my readers protect themselves against identity theft. To do that, I’m going to provide information on three very important aspects of identity theft protection:

1. How identity thieves get your personal information.

There are thousands of ways your information can wind up in the hands of an identity thief. It can happen through a massive breach, like the one the US government experienced about a month ago or that Home Depot had last year. It might be the result of a small breach from a local company that never got any news attention – those kind of breaches happen all the time! It might be stolen by a friend or relative, or by someone digging through your trash. You might accidentally give it away when you share files over the internet.

By understanding how identity theft happens, my hope is that you’ll be better able to prevent it from happening to you.

2. How identity thieves use your personal information.

They might want your credit card data to make purchases or even clone your card. They may use your Social Security number to open a new line of credit. They may steal your insurance information to get free medical services. They could use your name to avoid getting arrested or to get a job or to gain access to your gym or…This list could go on and on.

The more you understand about how your information is being used, the easier it will be to spot identity theft if it ever happens. And the sooner you spot it, the easier it is to fix.

3. What you need to do if someone does steal your identity.

Hopefully you won’t ever become a victim, but if you do, there are several steps you need to take to fix the problem. Some of them should happen immediately—like cancelling your credit card and filing a police report. Others are things you’ll need to do over time, such as continuing to monitor your credit reports for anything unusual. My goal is to help you through that process as best I can.

 

Bear with me! This is a new blog, and it may take me awhile to compile all of that information. And I may get sidetracked from time to time by important topics in the news, interesting facts I’ve just discovered, or anything else I think might interest my readers. But before long, I expect you’ll find this website to be a very useful tool in the ongoing battle against identity theft.

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