Identity Theft – A Growing Problem That Could Leave You Devastated

You go to a nice restaurant, enjoy a great meal and pay with your Visa or MasterCard. Although you add a nice tip for your friendly waiter, it’s possible that he earns a much bigger commission on his way back to the Cashier, with a tiny scanning device that records all of your credit card information. Soon you could be the victim of identity theft!

Or you travel on business and your Company books you in to a comfortable hotel – the kind that provides you with a card instead of a key to open your room. Did you know that many of these card keys now record your personal information, and, unless you destroy the card when you leave the hotel, it is so easy for someone to steal those details with a simple scanner?

What is Identity Theft?

The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. This guide is intended to explain why you need to take precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. 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, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense.

In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, running up vast debts and committing crimes while using the victims’ names. In many cases, a victim’s losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.

And perhaps the worst part is that you are treated like a criminal – innocent until proven guilty does not seem to apply here, and in many cases you will be expected to prove that you did no wrong, rather than the other way around, and many victims have spent countless hours and assets in trying to avoid bankruptcy [].

What Can I Do To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Identity Theft?

Be careful to guard your pin number when using an ATM.

Use PayPal (for instance) with limited funds available for on line transactions.

Check your bank accounts and credit report regularly.

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