Identity theft crimes are not new, but they have become more persuasive in the past decade. In mid-2005, San Francisco Chronicle discovered that holders of more than 40 million credit cards were vulnerable to financial fraud because identity thieves had compromised their credit card information. Earlier that year, information and data broker, Reed Elsevier Group PLC, revealed that several hundred thousand people might have had their profiles stolen from one of its U.S. databases. One quickly learns to secure their computer networks so that these kinds of attacks, or leaks are non-existant.
Information compromised included names, age, physical descriptions, mailing addresses, Social Security, and driver license numbers. This is virtually everything an impersonator needs to set up a clone of the identity theft victim, enabling him to make a number of financial and personal transactions in the victim's name. Usually an identity theft victim is usually under age forty, while about 11 percent of victims are age sixty or older. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in six identity theft victims said that thieves used their personal information to open at least one new account, such as credit card accounts or loan accounts, to rack up debts on existing accounts. The most recent data indicates that 9.3 million Americans (or 4.25% of all adults) are victims of ID theft on an annual basis. This is an alarming rate and should show you that you NEED to take preventative steps toward protecting your identity.
An identity theft victim risks the destruction of his/her good credit history, and may spend years, and large sums of money restoring the credit history and goodwill. There are instances of an identity theft victim been denied work or insurance or been detained for crimes he did not commit! Some victims of ID theft found that their names have been misused after police stopped them for a traffic violation and discovered that there is a warrant for their arrest. There are also times when an innocent person receives a summons to appear in court to answer for a criminal act. FTC's latest survey shows ID theft losses to businesses and financial institutions total $52.6 billion annually. Recently, Federal Trade Commission launched a website annualcreditreport where all consumers are eligible for a free copy of their credit reports. Take the time to go to that site and get your free credit report. This can be a step to alerting you to suspicious activity.