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Identity Theft – What Does It Really Mean?

In today’s society there are many things that can rock your world and not all of them are good. It is unfortunate that we need to protect ourselves from situations that are beyond our control but that is what is happening. It only takes one small problem and your life can be turned upside down. If this happens to you and you don’t know your rights you can be treated as if you didn’t have any.

Identity Theft is more than someone stealing your credit card and charging on it. There is a lot of misconception about this.

What it is according to the Federal Trade Commission:

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.

Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years – and their hard-earned money – cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit.

What can happen when your identity is stolen?

When someone steals your identity you may not now about it for months or years. We live in an information oriented society and technology allows us to do business and make transactions in a matter of seconds. This is a great thing for most of us but this abundance of information has also created problems. According to a 2003 release from the Federal Trade Commission, almost 10 million people in the United States may be victimized by identity thieves each year. Just because you have not received any strange phone calls or mail does not mean that it has not happened. Some of the people who steal identities are very good at keeping what they do hidden for over a year or many years. They may be using your name and social security number while living in another state. If they have bought a house or opened up a credit line somewhere they might pay just the minimum balances on the on bills until they have maxed them out. By that time they may even have taken a second mortgage out on YOUR house and you would not even know it. If you think this doesn’t happen, think again. It really does happen and it is happening more and more frequently.

If your identity is stolen will it affect more than your credit report?

Your credit standing is one of your most important financial assets. It not only affects your ability to get credit, it often dictates the interest rate at which you can borrow. It can also affect your ability to purchase insurance or to find employment. Some insurance companies use your credit score to set your premium rates and some prospective employers use your credit rating to gauge your sense of responsibility. This can be very devastating to find that your identity has been stolen when you are trying to find a job because you are already in a bind and you don’t need one more headache.

There are several companies offering products to help your protect your identity. If you use one of these companies be sure that they cover your social security number and that they do more than provide a fraud packet to you if your identity is stolen. You also want to make sure that they are monitoring more than your credit card.

Article submitted by:

Robyn Hamlin

Group Benefits, Inc.

Benefits for Groups & Individuals

(314) 438-0222