Credit and Debit Card Safety: Protecting Against Identity Theft
Written by: Kurt Johnson
Identity theft is not a new crime, but it has become a very lucrative business for criminals thanks to the digital age. With the proliferation of the internet and online banking, the threat to someone stealing your identity has increased exponentially. Essentially, when someone steals your identity, they are pretending to be you and using your personal information to access credit cards or other financial resources in your name. Victims of this crime suffer unfavorably and often are not left with very many avenues to repair their credit. After all, credit card companies and banking institutions are in the business of making money. The benefit of proving that your identity was stolen and you are not responsible for debts incurred is on you, not the companies. It can be very frustrating because you know you did nothing wrong, but financial institutions require proof. There are multiple kinds of identity theft, often varying depending on who is classifying them. Business/commercial identity theft means using someone’s business name to secure credit; criminal identity theft is pretending to be another person when arrested; financial identity theft is using someone else to obtain credit or services; identity cloning is using someone’s personal information to assume their daily life; and medical identity theft is using another person’s information to obtain drugs or medical services. Below are some resources to educate yourself to prevent becoming a victim, and also some resources in the event you do become a victim.
Identity Theft Laws and Fraud
- US DOJ – US Department of Justice website that helps understand what identity theft is, to include an identity theft quiz.
- Identity Theft Act – Text of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, providing insight into and education on the law surrounding this crime.
- Fighting Back – Federal Trade Commission website on avoiding ID theft, and what to do if you should find yourself victimized.
- Tips for Victims – State of California resource page offering tips for victims and what to do immediately. Applies to everyone, not just CA residents.
- Frequently Asked Questions – Social Security Administration (SSA) page with questions and answers about protecting your social security number.
- Consumer Affairs – Good site with resources, handouts, and links to other helpful information.
- Federal Laws – Office for Victims of Crime homepage for federal laws and regulations about privacy and identity theft.
- Identity Theft – National Criminal Justice Reference service has good information and links to assist you in understanding your rights.
- Electronic Leaflets – Learn how to protect your social security number and steps you should take if it has been compromised.
- Drivers License Fraud – Good information about keeping your drivers license safe from fraud and what to do in the event it is stolen.
- Safeguard Your Information – United States Postal Service (USPS) offers tips on how to protect your identity when using the mail.
- Online Banking – The Security and Exchange Commission offers information on how to keep your online brokerage accounts from being targeting for theft.
- Internet Fraud – The FBI offers a lot of tips on how to stay safe online while shopping or any time you are giving your personal information.
- Identity Theft Statistics – The Bureau of Justice statistics page on identity theft,with charts and links to other publications.
- Fighting Internet Fraud – With so much of our lives online these days, the federal government offers advice and resources to stay safe.
Identity Theft Organizations and Help Groups
- Identity Theft Resource Center – Non-profit organization dedicated to preventing and resolving identity theft.
- Remedying the Effects – FTC document that victims receive when they report their identity stolen.
- OCC – Office of the Comptroller of the Currency handout on protecting your identity and steps to take if it should become compromised.
- Answers and Solutions – Questions and answers about clearing your name once you have become a victim and if you are solicited.
- Credit Report – Once every 12 months, you may receive a free copy of your credit disclosure file from each of the three major credit bureaus.
- Stop. Think. Click – On Guard Online, a government website about staying safe on the internet.
- Victim Checklist – Identity Theft Victim resource with several warnings and tips on identity theft.
- ITAC – Identity Theft Assistance Center offers information and help with fighting back against fraud.
- National Consumer’s League – Depending on the type of information stolen during identity theft, your response will be different. This page helps you understand that.
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse – Super resource that attempts to be a one stop shop for all your needs to fight back against identity theft.
- Fraud Research Institute – A non-profit organization, this company offering resources to educate, deter, and how to overcome identity theft.
- NOVA – National Organization for Victim Assistance has help for victims of all crimes, including identity theft and fraud.