What makes identity theft so difficult to prevent is its far-reaching impact. Identity thieves can strike at anytime, anywhere, without any clues as to the next victim or the latest scam. But that doesn’t mean consumers and law enforcement are totally defenseless against identity thieves. Consumer and federal agencies are helping in preventing identity theft and fighting the crime.
Identity Theft Basics
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines identity theft as a federal crime in which someone purposely uses another person’s identifying information without permission to commit a crime. The FTC estimates that nearly 10 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. And identity theft is not just an adult crime. Child identity theft, according to government officials, is also a growing concern.
Types of Identity Theft
The Identity Theft Resource Center breaks down the federal offense into six types of identity theft. Within each type are top identity theft crimes that range from phishing and other online identity theft techniques to shoulder surfing and data breaches. What makes identity theft difficult to solve is that victims aren’t aware of the source of the crime because there are so many ways your identity can be stolen.
Preventing Identity Theft
Consumer advocates point out that identity theft prevention starts with education and awareness. Knowing the warning signs of identity theft minimizes your risk of becoming a victim. In addition, identity theft protection services are available to monitor your credit reports and other databases that are susceptible to identity theft.
What Happens If You Become A Victim
There are numerous resources for identity theft victims. Most important is reporting the crime, then restoring your identity and repairing damage done to your credit. If you have identity theft insurance or identity theft protection services, you are typically reimbursed for expenses related to restoring your identity. Identity theft can lead to bad credit, where you may wish to consider a credit monitoring service or credit repair agencies.