Identity theft is a term used to describe a fraud, committed by a perpetrator, pretending to be someone else, for his personal benefits. Usually, the perpetrator steals the personal information of a particular individual and uses it fraudulently to gain access the persons wealth, or to fulfill his vested interests.
Personal information may include bank account numbers, social security numbers, passwords, user names, credit card information etc. This information may be used to take loans or open new accounts in the victims name, as well as to steal money from his accounts.
The perpetrator may also use this information for some criminal purpose, and the victim will only realize about this, when he is held responsible for these criminal acts.
How are Identity Thefts Carried Out?
Identity theft is often committed by organized crime rings or individuals, out of desperation. It is a crime of an opportunity, the perpetrator need not be a criminal, he can just be a frustrated looking for opportunity and jumps onto it. The hardened criminals who work for organized crime syndicates, depend on illegal practice to carry out their operations.
The most common methods by which the perpetrator gains access to your personal information are dumpster driving and shoulder surfing. In dumpster, driving the culprit searches your trash to gain information about you, while in shoulder surfing the culprit overlooks your shoulder to see the information which you are either writing or typing.
What are Identity Theft Prevention Programs?
The list of crimes carried out with the help of stolen personal information about a particular individual is quite lengthy, and identity theft prevention is aimed at avoiding this fraudulent act.
Even a simple identity card can provide the perpetrator some vital information about you. The damages caused by identity theft can be very vast, therefore it is wiser to prevent such crimes from happening.
Don't get lured into false prize email scams, the information you provide to obtain that prize money can help the perpetrator to make some money at your cost. Keep your personal information as confidential as possible. If a culprit gets access to it, he can put you into some serious trouble.
When you fill the password or personal identification number (PIN) make sure that no one stands behind you. A perpetrator may stand behind you, and see what you type, or record the keys you hit while typing, on his cell phone.
Avoid carrying your social security card with you, it would be safer in your home. Don't carry the originals of important documents, such as car registration or insurance documents, in the car. Wallets and hand bags have to be guarded properly, a pickpocket may be after many more things than just your money.
Never put your outgoing mail in your personal mail boxes, they are quite vulnerable to thefts. Dropping your mail in a post office is much a wiser option. For incoming mails, use a locked mail box. Never write crucial information, such as your account number, on the outer side of the envelope.
When you are out of station, let the post office hold back the mail for you. You can collect it once you are back. Never throw documents containing your personal information in the trash can, instead you can destroy them by burning or shredding.
If you sense any foul play, report it to the local police or state law enforcement agency. Identity theft is a serious issue, which can even facilitate some grave activities, such as illegal migration or terrorism. It's important that we understand the severity of this issue, and take necessary steps enlisted in the prevention programs to be safe from identity thefts.