Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the whole world. Simply carrying a credit card or a driver’s license, or using a debit card in buying food, and making some online purchase can expose themselves to identity theft. Thieves are creating more sophisticated, advanced, and unpredictable methods of stealing personal information.
Identity theft happens when someone gains unauthorized access to valuable information and documents like credit cards, bank statements and utility bills and illegally uses the information to make unauthorized purchases. Although this may happen in different ways, the goal of the thief is to profit financially by using another person’s information. To protect oneself from this risk, the first step is to know and understand some basic facts about identity theft.
5 Facts to Know About Identity Theft
Thieves and hackers are always one step ahead of you
In most cases, people who commit fraud are tech-savvy and have their way of staying ahead of police. The threat evolves so quickly that before they can act on it, hackers have already moved to their new targets. The thieves can be anyone, from someone posing as a financial institution needing your information, to dumpster diving to find your old documents and bills- they can definitely be very creative.
People aged 18-24 are the most common targets
Young adults are among the groups most susceptible to identity theft. First-time credit card users are at higher risk because they may not fully understand how they can protect their personal information.
Many of them swipe their credit and debit cards more frequently than older people. There are those who tend to post their personal information on different social media sites, without realizing that they are giving access point to the thieves. Young adults often use their Smartphones to complete financial transactions, or shop online. Doing this using public Wi-Fi hotspots will increase their vulnerability to hacking
You will need five full weeks to restore your identity
Studies show that the majority of people take anywhere from 175- 600 hours to restore their identity. This equals to four to five 40-hour workweeks. The worse thing is, one out of four victims never gets to restore it. This means that 25% of the victims remain so for the rest of their lives.
Identity theft gets harder to detect
It’s difficult to detect new account fraud unless you have a credit monitoring system or you constantly look at your credit report. The longer it goes unnoticed, the more difficult it is to resolve the fraud. Third parties often identify 55% of the fraud and 45% is detected by consumers. Oftentimes, credit card companies and banks detect fraud, but this would require the cooperation of consumers for them to pinpoint the fraudulent transactions.
Prevent identity theft with security freeze
One of the best tools to prevent and protect yourself from identity theft is a security freeze. This will give you the option to freeze or lock access to your credit files against anyone who will try to open a new account or get a new credit using your name. A security freeze costs lesser than credit monitoring and will provide you with better protection against identity theft.
Identity theft is a big risk and can be really scary. It will not only money, but time to rebuild your financial reputation after it has been compromised. For you to ensure the safety of your identity, be sure to only do business with merchants that have a trusted reputation.
It is important that you monitor all your credit card statements. Most importantly, if you think that your personal information may have been compromised, immediately contact your credit card company or bank.