It is fast becoming your worst nightmare. Identity theft is sadly very real, and even more so now that we leave our details like a trail of crumbs all over the internet. It is astounding how gullible and trusting we are of a pleasant sounding voice on the other end of the phone, or a form on the screen of the computer promising lots money, complete with spaces to add every last detail of your life. What happens when somebody steals your identity? It happens everyday all over the world. A thief gets his hands on your personal information. He now has your identity. This includes information like your ID number, passport number, bank account numbers, address, credit card information, and of course your name.
One thing that is really scary about having your identity stolen is that you often don’t notice until the damage is done. Unlike being robbed or having your house broken into, it takes a while to figure out what happened. It’s only when you start examining your bank statements closely, receiving bills for loans you didn’t take out, or not receiving credit statements. You may not notice any of this straight away.
How does someone commit identity theft?
There are many ways to fall prey to identity theft.
- Riffling through your rubbish on the look out for bank statements, credit card statements and pre-approved credit offers. Believe it or not, identity thieves can even find your tax information in your bin.
- Identity theft can also take the form of straight forward robbing. A thief can get your details from your purse or wallet.
- A thief may obtain your details by filling out a change-of-address form and redirecting your post.
- You would be surprised at how easily you will hand over your details to someone who claims to be a person who has the lawful right to ask you for them. A bailiff or a detective or a court clerk for example.
- Buying your info from people who “skim” in shops. That is copying your card while you are paying.
- Obtaining your details over the phone, or on the internet with a scam site or posing as an official.
What does a thief use your details for?
- Opening credit card accounts. They spend, you pay.
- Taking out a mobile phone or phone service under your name.
- Opening a bank account in order to spend credit that you will pay for.
- Forging cheques, debit cards and credit cards, as well as emptying your bank accounts.
- Taking out car loans and buying cars that you will pay for but never drive.
- Changing the address on your credit card so that the statements no longer come to you and you don’t notice the problem until damage has been done.
Identity theft is to be taken seriously, mainly because the nature of this sort of crime is such that, more often than not, by the time you figure out what has happened, you are several thousand pounds out of pocket.