Identity Theft Basics

A Common-Sense Approach To Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft is an increasingly common threat as we use the Internet more frequently to connect with loved ones, complete purchases and conduct financial transactions. If you put personal information on the Web (and most of us do!), hackers have a way to intercept it, and sometimes even the most savvy techie can't avoid being hacked.

All About You - For A Price

Even if you do not actively place your personal information online, people can often purchase it for a nominal fee. Some underground websites offer cross-identification using just about any piece of information. Ever placed a phone call? A thief can obtain your name and address if their Caller ID displays your phone number. Even more can be obtained if they happen to get your social security information.

Fixing Your Identity

Once you have had your identity stolen, you are vulnerable to having your finances ruined and may even experience civil and criminal difficulties. Identity thieves often rack up fraudulent debts, and it is your responsibility to piece back your financial reputation via credit disputes and legal action.

The complexity of fixing a life ruined by identity theft has spawned an entirely new industry that provides "identity theft insurance" to assist in repairing identities that have been stolen.

The most frustrating aspect of identity theft is the difficulty in capturing and prosecuting the thieves. Since most of the personally identifiable information is collected via the Internet, you do not need to see your attacker in order to be attacked. Identity theft is a faceless crime. As a result, law enforcement is overburdened with finding, tracking and indicting identity thieves.

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

You can take several steps to protect yourself, including becoming familiar with common hacking methods. If you are aware of how these techniques work, you are more likely to be able to avoid hacking attempts.

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