Identity Theft: More Than You Are Being Told

There was a time where no one knew what the words “Identity Theft” meant. Now it is a phrase that proliferates our everyday lives; we cannot turn on a television or read a magazine or newspaper without hearing about it. While it is good that this inundation of information is making people aware of the problem, there is a lot of misinformation being put out to the public.

Whenever we hear about identity theft, it is almost always about a credit card or a bank account. However that is only 28% of the identity theft crisis. There are four other areas of identity theft.

Driver’s License Identity Theft occurs when someone obtains a license with their picture and someone else’s information. Since our driver’s license is our most standard form of identification, a thief can do many things with this document.

Social Security Identity Theft is when someone uses the social security number of another person. There are millions of people in the United States illegally. These individuals must work in order to provide for themselves and their families. In order to work you must have a social security number A 2006 law now requires companies to validate the social of employees; however there is a fatal flaw in that law. While it does require that the run the social security number to see if it is valid, it does not have to be valid for that person. In other words it does not have to be the applicant’s or the employee’s number, just one that is valid.

Medical Identity Theft is the fastest growing segment of identity theft. There are millions of people nationwide who either cannot afford or are unable to get health coverage. Recognizing the value in having health care, some people will do anything to obtain it and that can include using yours. Medical Identity Theft occurs when someone obtains medical care in another person’s name. Being a victim of this could cause you to get dropped for your medical insurance unbeknownst to you and that could be particularly devastating if you have a family. This can and has been deadly because as they do this, changes are often made to the medical records of the victim, and in most cases it is illegal to change medical records even where there are errors.

Character and/or Criminal Identity Theft is another frightening aspect of the identity theft crisis that most people are not aware of. Imagine being pulled over for what you think is a routine traffic stop and the next thing you know, the officers have their guns drawn and you are being taken out your car and arrested and taken to jail for a crime that you know nothing about. This is not a plot from the movie of the week; this is happening to people on a daily basis. Criminal or character identity theft happens when someone commits crimes in someone else’s name.

Financial and/or Credit Identity Theft is typically what most people think of when they hear about identity theft. Though it is the facet that is publicized the most by television, magazines, newspapers and other media outlets, it only makes up roughly a quarter of the identity theft. The majority of this epidemic deals with the other four areas of id theft. Thieves obtain your personal information to steal your money , open new lines of credit, and use your existing credit accounts to make fraudulent charges in your name. The tragic part is those entertaining commercials lead people to believe identity theft is a victimless crime; it is no big deal when it happens and that the victim is not responsible for the charges. However that is not the case at all. You have 60 days to report the incident and outside of that window, you are 100% responsible for all the charges made. It is a very big deal; you can talk to the millions of people who have already been victimized and they can tell you how big of a deal it is.

There is a misconception that has been fed to the populous that not shopping online, shredding our financial statements, and checking our accounts can stop you from being a victim of identity theft; nothing could be further from the truth. While those are good ways to minimize our exposure and risk of being a victim, there is no real way to stop yourself from being a victim. This is because our information is already out there beyond our control. We have all been born, went to school, applied for jobs, driven, voted, and a host of other things. In short we live our lives, and if we do any of those things and many, many others then our information is already out there sitting in a database somewhere and that information has been getting stolen at a dizzying pace. There have been over 230 million records compromised since January 2005 in a variety of data breaches from schools, hospitals, businesses, and even federal and city agencies.

What most people do not know is that the crime enterprise of identity theft is extremely lucrative. Identity theft has now generated more criminal revenue than the illegal drug trade. Combine that with the extremely low prosecution rate and it is easy to see why this is an exploding area for criminals to go into.

As the identity theft crisis has picked up steam, the public has become aware and there are many companies springing up looking to take advantage of the crisis by offering identity theft “services”. The vast majority of these companies offer some credit monitoring and a resolution or reimbursement services. These companies have fooled people into believing that those services will really help them in an identity theft incident. Credit monitoring is a good tool as an early warning device especially in the area of financial identity theft, however if you are affected in any of the other areas of identity theft they more than likely will not show up on a credit report. Resolution services mean that you will be sent a packet of information that tells you what to do and you will have to go out and do all the work and spend the out of pocket expenses on your own to get the situation cleared up. Reimbursement services are where you the victim, still have to go out and solve the problem on your own. If or when you do, you bring all receipts from your efforts to the company and they will decide what you should be repaid for. The sad truth is even if you are repaid 100% of your expenses, there is one thing that you can never get back and that is all the time you spent trying to clear the identity theft situation.

So you may wonder,” What is the best answer?”. The answer to that question is true restoration services. Restoration services are exactly what it sounds like; your identity is restored to the way it was before the incident took place. Professional, licensed investigators should perform the services for you. You will also need access to legal counsel in a majority of identity theft situation. We have found just that company, Kroll Inc., and Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. through their partnership has created a service that addresses all these needs for people. Called the Identity Theft Shield, in conjunction with Pre-Paid Legal’s Life Event Legal Plan, provides all the areas of coverage that is required to help people deal with Identity Theft before, during and after an occurrence as well as the access to the legal system that is necessary not only for identity theft but also to deal with everyday legal situations that we all encounter. To find out more about this service, visit http://www.greatworkplan.com/betterlife4u.

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