Theft has taken so many forms in this modern day and age, that one is required to be specific as to what type of thieving they are trying to insinuate. For instance, a man can steal someone’s idea of starting a business to supply a specific commodity and thus end up successful. This can be quantified as stealing an idea. So, with regards to this, what is identity theft or can you define identity theft accordingly?
An ideal identity theft definition is the knowingly or deliberate use of someones personal details while purporting that they are your own, to gain a significant advantage on something.
A core fact is that to be called an identity thief it is to say that you did the act knowingly. The second thing is that you stand to benefit, which is the main motive of stealing someone’s identity. Whether you benefit from this or not, in the long-run, it does not matter because you stole anyway.
A famous novel, ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ talks of someone who takes the king’s place during coronation, in order to be crowned the legitimate king, as a classic example of seeking to gain. Which brings the thought, what if you tried to impersonate someone and they owed money (debt) that you can not repay?
I guess you would be in trouble, but the opposite happens when someone steals your identity and then they accrue expenses that you know nothing about. By law, if this happens, especially if it is credit card fraud, you are not required to pay the bank, and the most you can be charged is only $50 if the damage caused by the identity thief was significant.
How to know if my identity has been stolen?
Technology has played a vital part in setting up online networks where we have, for instance, employee databases, billing information and so forth. These are just some of the ways that technology has instilled some sense of order in institutions as well as the general public. It has to be noted, however, that people who intend to do bad things will create loopholes or exploit existing ones for that matter.
This is particularly the reason why it is hard to give a definite answer to ‘how to know if my identity has been stolen.’ The thing is, there is a myriad of signs that can point to identity theft while in actual fact it is not. You may have a package sent to your address and you are to be billed for the delivery. Perhaps it was intended for a John Smith but the sender confused names on the address and it ended up to your home. It might raise a red flag and if/when you follow up on it you find out that it was just an honest mistake.
There are cases when you do not follow up, for instance, you fail to receive your monthly bill or it is unusually late. It might mean that someone has taken over your account and changed your billing information.
Another common one is when your credit rating takes a dip for the worse. You may be denied credit or alternatively, have it granted, but at higher interest rates charged. It is a sure sign from your previous credit rating that someone compromised you. The identity theft definition is so broad, that these are the most common, yet there are so many others such as your tax return (electronic) is rejected unauthorized transactions, and a tax refund you never requested.
What to do if identity theft is suspected?
In the US for instance, there is a dedicated task force to combating identity theft, and every citizen is advised to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.org. They also have a hotline which is faster and allows you to act promptly to safeguard your interests among other assets such as money or credit.
However, the biggest reason identity theft is rampant is because of money, and banks, as well as other financial institutions, are heavily involved. Basically, the steps you are to undertake when you realize your financial details have been compromised is to notify the bank or creditors, instantly. If you feel that you have been embroiled in a saga of credit card fraud, you can put a credit card fraud alert on your credit reports.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is to stay vigilant and always cross check your credit report against receipts to confirm that you have been genuinely billed. If all this seems complicated, you can just rush to a police station near you since they have special branches to investigate such discrepancies. You can try and type ‘what to do if identity theft is suspected’ on a search engine alongside a country, just to see how different jurisdictions deal with this menace.
What is the best identity theft protection?
At this point in time, it is difficult to isolate one particular method because fraudsters exploit loopholes in so many ways. The best way possible is to be vigilant at all times whereby, you check credit statements and avoid sharing personal details, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Other than that, you can employ professional services that help cushion you from such adversaries.
You can hire theft identity protection services such as Identity Force or Life Lock. When surfing the internet, you can use a VPN connection that masks your IP address and encrypts your data. You are guaranteed that no one can see your IP address and hack you to get your details.
In conclusion, there are unfortunate events such as losing your wallet which can encourage identity theft. Someone can use your ID to impersonate you, and in a worse case scenario, even paint you as a thief. So, what is the best identity theft protection? As mentioned, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on local connections keeps you anonymous.
People cannot steal what they can’t see, right? Keep your legal documents safely and avoid sharing intimate details of your bank accounts, credit card numbers, or even tax ID. Only by taking precaution can you fight the threat before it even strikes.