Identity theft is a form of fraud that occurs when a thief steals identifying personal information belonging to another person to impersonate that person for personal gain. Stolen identity information can include the victim's financial accounts, credit card numbers, bank accounts, social security numbers, driver's licenses, and home addresses. Identity thieves use phishing emails or malware programs to access these kinds of personal information. They then use this information to impersonate the victim and commit fraud, usually in the form of opening new financial accounts without the victim's permission.
In 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that identity theft was America's fastest-growing crime, with a 16.5% year-over-year increase. Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses another person's personal informationsuch as name, address, or credit card numberto obtain money, goods, or services.
The prevalence of identity theft and other online scams is proving a challenge for governments across North America. This is partly due to the sheer volume of digital information exchanged daily on the internet.
Hackers can commit fraudulent activity and other tech-savvy criminals or individuals using seemingly innocuous online tools to access other people's information. Unfortunately, while the work of the perpetrators continues, the work of law enforcement continues.
Unfortunately, much of this activity is believed to be perpetrated by living overseas, making it incredibly difficult for law enforcement to locate the individuals responsible.
How can you protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft?
Criminals are increasingly targeting specific individuals with these crimes, and it's essential to be vigilant to protect yourself and your personal identifying information. Because it's a criminal activity that can have long-term repercussions, pursuing identity theft mitigation measures is essential, particularly if your identity has been compromised.
How do you prevent identity theft?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot that can be done to ensure you will never become a victim of identity theft but below are a few tips on what to do if it happens:
1). Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by calling any of the three credit reporting agencies. The company you call is required to contact the other two on your behalf, and all three will place a fraud alert on your credit report. Here is a chart of contact information for each of the agencies.
Name - Phone - Email Address - Website
In which state were the crimes committed?
When fraudsters successfully gain access to people's private information, they can inflict substantial harm; significant harm is done to victims regardless of whether or not they ultimately figure out the identity theft.
Any damage, whether related to a victim's credit or reputation, can be effectively undone and treated with the help of experienced legal counsel. Victims will be understandably reluctant to spend their own money on a problem someone else created for them. However, the reality is that victims must take the lead in putting their personal and financial lives back together. An experienced attorney can expedite the process, which is incredibly impactful in situations that require victims to defend or prosecute a lawsuit to undo the effects of the fraud.
Lawsuits like this can lead to liens against the victim's property. The victim's wage can also be garnished. Plus, the creditor can take other collection efforts against the individual.
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