Have you ever noticed a collection notice that seemed out of the ordinary? Are bill collectors calling your home regarding a credit card you do not possess? When out-of-the-ordinary financial red flags begin to rise, it could be more than a company error – you might be experiencing a case of identity theft.

What is Identity Theft?

When identity theft occurs, the credit rating of a victim becomes seriously tarnished by the act of others who run up credit cards, apply for loans, and order online products without the knowledge of a cardholder. The damage sustained from identity theft is so great that some people never fully recover from the aftereffects. Despite repeated attempts to correct the problem, the miles and miles of paperwork and computer corrections needed to fully gain closure may never repair the dent left behind Name Change in Aadhar Card.

Who is At Risk?

No one is safe from the threat and destruction of identity theft. The potential of having a name, Social Security number, and other elements of an identity stolen and misused can occur to the youngest of victims to the oldest. Even the deceased cannot rest when clever thieves take advantage of their unfortunate circumstances and assume their accounts.

Statistically Speaking…

Identity theft is a costly intrusion. More than $50 billion reflects the total loss that businesses and individuals have suffered due to new account and existing account frauds. To correct the invasion of their identities, Americans on the whole are forced to spend more than 300 million hours trying to resolve their concerns. Some victims will log in an average of 30 – 60 hours to handle their affairs and straighten out their credit history.

If you are wondering who has stolen your name and how they were able to retrieve your personal details, more than 25% of reported identity theft cases have involved a family member or someone the victim already knew. This is a good indicator to avoid sharing your personal information with loved ones and best friends. If you are able to pinpoint the thief who has tampered with your good name, you may file charges against the culprit, but unfortunately, some people are unable to locate the wrongdoer, especially when a thief has been swiping credit cards all over town and forging signatures undetected.

Identity Theft Warning Signs

Most identity theft victims find out about their misfortune by noticing discrepancies on their credit reports or catching sight of credit card charges they did not make. Monthly credit card and bank statements will show unauthorized charges or withdrawals. Unrecognized entries added to a credit report will definitely call attention to identity theft. As creditors submit claims, you may begin receiving phone calls from collection agencies. Once you have discovered that identity theft has taken place, it is highly suggested to close related accounts, receive new cards and account numbers, and create new passwords.

Minimizing the Risk of Identity Theft

To avoid the time, money, and energy that come with a case of identity fraud, you might want to take steps in preventing the act from occurring in the first place. While it is virtually impossible to guarantee that your efforts will turn out successful, taking action is better than standing by and allowing your identity to become a target. As you attempt to protect your credit and good name, you may get into the habit of shredding financial documents and any unwanted personal information you normally throw away.

When it comes to your Social Security number, it is important to guard it dearly. Carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or writing your number on a check is not advised because it increases the threat that your card and number will fall into the wrong hands. Only give out your number when it is absolutely needed and even in that case, try requesting permission to use alternative measures.

The personal information that you give to others should not take place over the phone, through the mail, or across the World Wide Web unless you are sure whom you are dealing with. For Internet correspondences, only make arrangements or communicate with websites that offer encryption protection.

If you don’t lend out your credit card or account information to others, then there is less threat that mishandling and abuse will take place.

When unsolicited emails arrive in your inbox, it is unadvisable to click on links that may download spyware onto your computer. It is this type of software that will patrol the personal information stored on your computer for passwords and credit card details.

When choosing a password, refrain from selecting obvious words and phrases that resemble your birth date, last name, your maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

When visiting church, the doctors, or any other public place, it is important to keep your purse or wallet by your side or intensely guarded so that thieves lurking in the shadows are not able to take advantage of you.

Pin numbers connected to your credit and debit cards should be memorized or kept in a safe place so that someone who stumbles upon your cards does not gain easy access to your personal accounts.

Investing in some sort of credit monitoring or identity theft prevention service will help keep you on top of your credit rating. The sooner you are able to correct the errors of others, the better your life will be.

Identity theft is unrelenting and does not care if you are 10 years old, disabled, a wealthy executive, or a struggling mother of five. Do not let down your guard and do not think you are immune to having your identity stolen. Protect yourself now so you will not have to look back and wish you had.

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