The FBI has called it "The fastest growing crime in America." Close to 10 million Americans every year are victimized by it and the costs are estimated at 50 billion dollars annually. Many criminals get off easy while the victims spend years working to restore their damaged credit reports and reputations. Worse yet, there seems to be no end in sight.
"The popularity of the crime is simply growing faster than the solutions to stop it" many experts conclude. The task of recovery is so time consuming and tedious, multiple states have resorted to creating "Identity Theft Passports" for victims in an attempt to ease the pain for them as they endure the lengthy and frustrating clean up process.
By the end of this article I will share with you the secrets of making yourself virtually identity theft proof in 60 minutes or less (for free). I use the term "secrets" because less than 1% of the country are aware of these techniques (let alone practicing them).
If Americans took these preventative steps up to 99% of all identity theft would be eliminated. However, "why" this beneficial approach is not being made common knowledge in the mainstream media is something I will not disclose in this article (more on that another time). For the moment I believe the biggest crime one can commit is to not share this information with their friends and family (by the end of this article you will understand why).
Unlike other authors covering this subject I will not insult your intelligence by sharing common sense tips like "Don’t carry your SSN Card or ATM PIN# in your wallet or purse" or "Keep all data sensitive documents like credit card and bank statements locked up in your home or office". This is elementary advice at best. The key to protecting yourself from identity theft is to look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite (to say the least).
Almost 60% of Americans are now shredding all their mail and documents and many are even subscribing to credit monitoring services or buying identity theft insurance in an attempt to protect themselves from becoming victims. While this is better than doing nothing it’s a far cry from TRUE security.
Study The Past To Predict The Future
Contrary to popular belief statistics show the majority of identity theft does NOT result from the internet as most consumers have been led to believe. In fact, less than 10% of identity theft cases (where data compromise can be determined) originated online. In almost 50% of cases consumers are the ones who detect the breach.
In nearly 40% of cases the criminal was someone who was in close contact with the victim (friend, relative, neighbor, coworker, in-home employee, waiter/waitress or financial institution employee). In then end, nearly one third of identity theft cases come from a stolen wallet/purse, checkbook or credit card.
More interesting, the age of the primary victim has lowered. If you are between the age of 25 to 34 you are now the largest target for the crime (65+ has become the smallest). The bad news is that while identity theft nationwide is on the decline (8.9 million victims last year down from 9.3 million in 2005) the dollar amount per victim is going up ($6,383 last year, up from $5,885 in 2005) and so are the number of hours victims spend cleaning up the mess (40+ hours last year, up from 28 hours in 2005).
We’ve all heard the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Yet, no one is practicing it in the pandemic of identity theft. Credit monitoring is nice but only 11% of consumers ever catch identity theft through this means. Identity Theft Insurance (according to many experts) is even more of a hoax. A product marketed by playing on the fears of American consumers which does nothing more than assist them in cleaning up the mess only AFTER their identity has been stolen.
A Different Approach
The following is a completely different approach to preventing and protecting yourself from identity theft. It is based on the reality that we live in a world now where there is zero privacy of personal data. Meaning that your name, address, phone number, social security number, date of birth (even your mothers maiden name) can be obtained by ANYONE for a fee.
If you’re one who feels this is paranoid thinking let me tell you about Amy Boyer. In 1999 Miss Boyer had an old high school classmate (Liam Youens) come back into her life many years later. Mr. Youens obtained Amy’s SSN and other personal information after paying Docusearch Inc. $150. After Youens shot Miss Boyer to death he then turned the gun on himself. Today the company tells visitors to its website that "not all searches are available to the public" and some are reserved for the investigative and legal industry. How’s that for homeland security?
With this "different" approach we break down identity theft into two distinct categories. 1.) Basic Identity Theft, and 2.) Credit Hijacking. By definition "Basic Identity Theft" is when the perpetrator steals your identity and then uses it to obtain NEW credit accounts for their personal gain. "Credit Hijacking" falls under a
criminal stealing your identity in order to access and use your EXISTING credit accounts. Each type of fraud is different and therefore so is your plan of defense.
So now with the initial fraud alert established on your credit reports (and later extended) as well as the personal security code set up with all your bank and credit card accounts, you are virtually identity theft proof in under 60 minutes for free. Sure, someone canalways "steal" your identity but the real joke will be on them. If they try to open a new credit account anywhere in the country the creditor is going tohave to call YOU at the phone number listed on your report in before it can be approved and it’s GAME OVER. If they try to hijack your credit by changing the address on your credit accountsthey will be asked for not only the last four digits of your SSN and mother maiden name, but also your personal security code which they will NOT know and again it’s, GAME OVER.
Please understand that this article deals only with the topic of "financial" identity theft which is by far the most prevalent today. However, you should be aware you also have the following "5 MAJOR" identities in computers across the nation which are your:
1.) Driving Records/History (DMV Databases).
2.) Medical Records/History (Medical Information Bureau Database).
3.) Social Security Records/History(SSA Database).
4.) Insurance Claims/History (C.L.U.E. Database).
5.) Criminal, Legal and Public Record databases from birth records and realestate deeds to corporations, trusts and court cases. Yes, we are in the information age but all information is stored in databases. I think we are now living in the database age.