OK so I love movies. I would say I’m a “movie-holic.” Although I’ve seen it multiple times, ‘Identity Thief’ was on last night, and I just had to watch it. Although it is an extremely funny movie (I love Melissa McCarthy), it got me thinking: What would I do if someone stole my identity? So I decided to do a little research.
In the movie, ‘Identity Thief’, the detective working Sandy Bigelow Patterson’s (Jason Bateman) case said that it could take anywhere from 6 months to a year to catch her. A YEAR!
So why is it hard to catch identity thieves? Well, it seems to come down to three (3) things
- Lack of Evidence: The average identity thief knows how to mask their real identity. Meaning that when law enforcement investigates the crime, all they find is another victim whose identity was stolen. In Sandy’s case, the detective looked into the crime and found his credit cards linked to a drug deal in Florida.
- Lack of Resources: According to the FTC, there were more than 490,000 Identity Theft Complaints in 2015. Imagine if you were number 300,000 on that list…law enforcement would never get around to looking at your case. Although it is a very serious crime that can have a detrimental affect on you and your family, law enforcement’s priority is violent crimes.
- Lack of Awareness: Because identity theft is not a violent crime, people (maybe even you) do not see it as serious as burglary or assault. It’s virtual and completely removed from our everyday lives. Until awareness is raised that this crime is serious and can ruin businesses and lives, people’s perception will remain the same.
So how can you (try to) prevent your identity from being stolen?
Credit Score: To start, check your credit history and score on a regular basis. This way you can ensure that everything is accurate and legitimate. You may have an 750 credit score now (or better), so you don’t want to end up like Sandy with a score of 200 because of identity theft!
Something you may not think about….your children’s credit score. If you think about it, they are the perfect victim because theft can go undetectable for years. An identity thief can obtain your child’s social security number when he is, let’s say 5, and open lines of credit. When your child turns 18 and is ready to take out a loan for a car or college, they will be turned down due to a poor credit score.
Protect Your Personal Information: To some, this may be a no-brainer, but it may be harder than you think. Be careful to whom you give personal information to, such as your address, phone number, date-of-birth, and especially your social security number. Once scammers get a hold of this information, they can use it to open lines of credit in your name. They can take out a mortgage, buy a car, and obtain credit cards to go on a shopping spree in your name.
Have you ever received a phone call from the “IRS” around tax time telling you that you owe taxes? Don’t be scammed! The IRS does NOT call you, they will either send you a letter in the mail, or an email. To learn more about tax scams and what to look for, read this article: IRS Warns Taxpayers to Guard Against New Tricks by Scam Artists; Losses Top $20 Million.
I hope you found this article interesting and sort of an eye opener to how easy it is to fall victim to identity theft.
For more tips & information on identity theft, visit USA.GOV.
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