Numerous Americans are vigilant about identity theft for good reason. An estimated one out of every three Americans has already been a victim of identity theft in one way or another. Identity theft is scary, and it can impact the rest of your life. However, there are a wide range of crimes associated with the term.
According to news site CNN, identity fraud occurs every two seconds in the United States. Unlike identity theft which is used to access personal information, identity fraud is used to access personal information for the purpose of financial gain. Approximately 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft or identity fraud in year 2013, and trends suggest that there has been a steady rise in the crimes since year 2010.
There are numerous ways criminals acquire credit card information or banking information for financial gain. Often, people are under the misconception that they are safe from identity fraud if they do not use credit cards or carry them. However, chips are embedded in passports and government issued identification sources (driver’s licenses, passports), which can give criminals enough information to steal funds directly from your bank account.
In 2008, Sarah (a pseudonym) a young mother-to-be, excitedly posted pictures of herself on a social media site. She was attractive and outgoing. She wanted to share her excitement with her friends and family. However, someone else found the pictures intriguing, and that person stole the young mother’s sensitive information as part of an elaborate scam.
The scammer preyed on couples interested in adopting a newborn child. She would post pictures of Sarah’s pregnancy from the social media site, and she would use Sarah’s personal information to convince hopeful couples that she was indeed a young mother interested in circumventing the traditional adoption system. The scammer stole thousands of dollars from the couples. She claimed she needed funds for prenatal care, and everything would be wonderful when the baby was born.
After the appropriate amount of time had elapsed, the scammer disappeared. Sarah was contacted by several angry couples, but she genuinely had no idea what was going on. Thanks to exceptional police work and the full cooperation of the social media site, the scammer was brought to justice. However, it remains almost impossible to account for the emotional damages suffered by Sarah as well as the hopeful couples.
There is no single way to guarantee you will never fall victim to identity theft. However, there are simple measures you can take to protect your personal information. Instead of trying bizarre methods of protection for sensitive information, invest in simple methods that are proven to work. The best part about taking action against identity theft is that criminals never have to know that your information could be used for financial gain. Additionally, you will have a lesser chance of suffering consequences that arise from typical and bizarre types of identity fraud and identity theft that are common in the United States.