Identity Theft

Identity theft is a burgeoning problem having the potential to adversely impact any person participating in our modern information age. While not specifically limited to the digital environment, online transactions and electronic record keeping have greatly facilitated the ability of identity thieves to pilfer personal and financial information and use that information to fabricate false identities. With these assumed identities, identity thieves proceed to fleece individuals and organizations of funds, products and services, leaving in their wake a swath of devastated credit histories and damaged reputations.

Ironically, many of the identity theft techniques used by identity thieves to acquire information are distinctly non-electronic and low-tech, such as rummaging through trash (dumpster diving) for carelessly discarded printouts containing information such as account numbers, passwords and social security numbers. More “up close and personal” methods include using false pretenses to obtain information directly from you (pretexting) — such as claiming to be a representative of a financial institution or service agency with which you do business — or outright theft of wallets, purses and portable electronic devices.

The highly successful electronic version of pretexting, known as “phishing,” involves sending phony emails that look like they emanate from reputable agencies or financial institutions. Skilled identity thieves may even set up a bogus website that looks identical to that of your bank or brokerage. Do not think that there are limits to which identity thieves will not go; their brazenness is unsurpassed. I recently received several phishing emails purporting to be from the FBI!

So ... how does one protect himself or herself from identity theft? How do you detect identity theft and what steps should you take if the worst happens and you discover that your identity has been stolen? A wealth of information is contained within the websites and articles available through links on this page and within other topics covered by our Asset Protection theme. (See SiteMap.) Reading some of this information may just save your assets when the identity thieves come knocking ... or snooping ... or emailing.

Ignorance is the identity thief’s greatest tool. Knowledge defeats identity theft. Be knowlegeable to be safe.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 25 June 2011.

If you are an authority on identity theft and would like to expand on or offer correction to this article, please email us using the Contact Us link near the top of the page.

Follow links to the right to learn more about identity theft and asset protection. At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest pertaining to security and consumer protection. View the Security & Consumer Protection SiteMap for a complete list of security and consumer protection topics.

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