Authorities say there is a new twist on identity theft: What you need to know about protecting your credit reports
Synthetic Identity Fraud.
Authorities say there is a new twist on identity theft, Synthetic Identity Fraud. This occurs when the thief uses one true piece of your identity, and then combines it with fake information, i.e. a different date of birth, social security number, address, etc.
With the constant change of technology, it is becoming more important to stay on top of protecting your good name.
Synthetic Identity Fraud now accounts for approximately 85% of all identity fraud in the United States, costing an estimated $2 billion per year, according to investigators.
The US Department of Justice explains what identity theft and fraud is on their website www.justice.gov with a perfect quote……..
“But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed.”
– Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3.
The Internet of Things
In this digital age protecting your financial portfolio is becoming more challenging due to the convenience of technology. Some experts are referring to this changing world as the internet of things or “IOT”.
Think all our daily digital devices and services: microwaves, washing machines, televisions, electricity, smart phones, on-line banking, and self-driving cars. Every aspect of our life can be controlled by the internet or something digital, this list only names a few. Individuals must change how they function or get left behind!
Unlike your fingerprints which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data especially your Social Security number, credit card number, and other valuable identifying data can be used if they fall into the wrong hands.
We have all heard stories of major corporations including our own Federal Government systems being hacked. What do you think happens to our personal information when there is a breach or the security system is hacked?
Many people have reported that an unauthorized person has taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts.
A worse case scenario would be that an unknown person has taken over their identities resulting in an increase of debt and crimes committing while using the stolen identity.
Electronic Evidence and Electronically Stored Information
In the computer age, 99% of all documents are created and stored electronically. It doesn’t matter if you have a large or small case, utilize identity theft prevention or protection, discovery issues relating to electronic evidence will have to be addressed and resolved.
Electronic evidence has been described as e-mail, spreadsheets, word processing documents, audio, video, or any other content that has been created in a digital format. This includes electronically stored information stored by the three major Credit Reporting Agencies “CRA’s” data base. (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).
The fact-finding process will require you to uncover electronic data. You need to have a working knowledge of how to request and disclose responsive electronic evidence. This knowledge and process will help prevent identity theft or protect yourself from Fraud.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country according to the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA’s).
The CRA’s calculate that 19 people per minute become victims, and the average cost to the victim is $500.00 plus 30 hours of hassle.
How often should you check your credit report?
You should check your credit report every 30 days using a monitoring service. You are entitled to one FREE Report every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Imagine attempting to build a business, preparing your children for college, getting pulled over by the police to find out a thief has used your identity and damaged your good name.
I have a friend that has been a victim of identity theft and the fraudster had the audacity to attend college in his name!
This is not just happening in the United States it is happening worldwide.
Take a look at the article below about a lawyer that got disbarred because of stealing his brother.
10 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
So let’s look at 10 basic tips you can take to prevent identity theft:
- If you lose your wallet, purse, or credit card, contact your card issuer right away.
- Avoid using ATM’s in obscure locations because it’s easier for thieves to install “skimming” devices on them that steal your information when you swipe your card.
- Check your account statements for errors.
- Look for mistakes on your credit report.
- Respond to calls or letters from your bank. (failure to respond to calls or letters could allow the perpetration of identity theft)
- Follow up on odd bills you receive. (This is the number one signal that your identity may have been compromised)
- Stay on top of missing mail. (If you don’t receive bank statements as usual, this could signal a problem)
- Follow up if you receive unexpected mail. (This too could signal that a “COA” Change of Address has been initiated with the post office and your mail address has been altered).
- Look out for errors on your Social Security Statement of account.
- Investigate if your denied funds based on your credit, Investigate the reason for denial.
The Credit Bureau Message
You must prepare yourself to combat identity fraud. One way to slow down the fraud is to place a “Credit Bureau Message” on your credit report. This can be accomplished by simply writing to the three major credit bureaus with a statement such as:
Please DO NOT issue any credit under my name without first contacting me at this phone number 555-55-5555 to verify that I have in fact applied for credit.
This simple Credit Bureau Message or “Fraud Alert” will prevent any attempts for anyone to commit identity theft, synthetic identity theft, or any other type of theft or fraud in your name because the credit issuing agency will have to contact you first and inquire if you have in fact applied for Credit.
If you have already been the victim of identity theft you must dig a little deeper and employ this strategy: File an I.D. Theft Affidavit or FTC Fraud Affidavit.
To add insult to injury, when one of these fraudulent accounts are not paid the accounts may end up in a collection agency’s office. Now you have the original creditor and a collection agency reporting derogatory information twice to the Credit Bureaus.
Be sure to apply our Credit Masters guide on dealing with Collection Agencies here…
If identity theft is beyond the point of no return you may have to go to court to restore your credit and name. You will need to know how to request electronic data from the credit bureaus and creditors directly.
If you need immediate assistance with identity theft Call our office NOW! 888-418-3037 or book an appointment