When some people think about identity theft, the confuse it with credit card fraud – and the two crimes are distinctly different, although they do share some common factors.
With both crimes, a thief has gotten his hands on your information and is using it to convince others that he’s you. The bad thing is that once he’s done so, he is entitled to all the same benefits you are.
The worst part of the scenario is that you’ve done everything right. You’ve maintained good credit and banking accounts, you haven’t committed any crimes, you aren’t under investigation and you have a steady income. But those are the very things that make you valuable in the eyes of a criminal.
Credit card fraud is when a thief takes your credit card and makes purchases with it. Debit card fraud also falls into this category, since debit cards can also be used as credit cards, bypassing the need for a personal identification number.
Thieves obtain credit cards in one of two ways: first of all, the most obvious is to just take the card from the owner. The other way is more crafty. There are numerous phishing scams online that trick a consumer into going to a bogus Web site and entering credit card information.
Identity theft is a whole other ballgame. With identity theft, a person steals another’s whole identity, including Social Security number, official identification cards or driver’s license and other documents and personal information. With this information, a thief can open credit accounts, get loans, and obtain cell phones, utilities, apartments and employment. Until the victim checks his or her credit report or is contacted by a collection agency, he or she may not even be aware there’s a problem.
The most horrible thing about this scenario is that the victim becomes responsible for the debts and can even be arrested if his or her identity is used to commit a crime. It can be a harrowing experience to restore reputation and credit.
It is important to keep your personal information, along with your credit, debit and Social Security cards, secure. If they are lost or stolen, report it as soon as possible. And you’ll want to make sure to obtain and review your credit report carefully for any fraudulent or unexplained entries.
If you can’t keep watch over your information 24/7 – and who among us can – it’s time to call LifeLock.
LifeLock will monitor for both credit and non-credit related threats to your personal information, and will notify you immediately if any such threat is detected. In other words, you’ll know about a threat before a criminal has a chance to do any real damage to your good name or your credit.
Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”