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How Identity Theft Affects You

What happens when your identity is stolen?
What are thieves after?

...You see a huge drop in your bank account balance. The money is gone. You get a lien or judgment filed against you for something you’ve never heard of. You get a call from a debt collector for a delinquent loan you never took out. You get a notice for late payments from a cell phone company or credit card you never signed up for.

These are typical signs of identity theft. Unfortunately, these early warning signs are just the beginning of the devastating effects of identity theft.

Here's what identity thieves and cyber-criminals want from you:

Your Money.
It's the digital age. Today's thieves can drain your bank account, take your investments, sell property out from under you, scam you out of your money, and a host of other cyber-crimes – before you ever find out. They'll take every chance to rip you off, and because millions of people get hit every year, they know they have little chance of getting caught.

Your Identity.
In addition to stealing your money, identity theft can lead to ruined credit records, piles of fraudulent debt, false arrest and imprisonment, false medical records, and much more. With just your name, Social Security number and birth date, a thief can use you over and over to commit a long list of crimes in your name.

What are the effects, consequences of identity theft?
Why should you be concerned?

Catching the early warning signs of identity theft is critical. The longer the thief uses your identity, the harder it is to recover, and the more damage they will do to you. Victims of identity theft on average spend more than 500 hours and spend $3,000 or more to repair the damage. That's more than 62 days of full-time effort to restore your good name and clear your credit over a period of a year or more!

The mental and emotional stress can be significant as well. Your good name and your credit can take a big hit that takes years to fix. And debt collectors are only concerned with getting their money back – they don’t really care that your identity was stolen. Fighting identity theft is never easy, no matter how simple the crime.

The effect on your family members when their identity is stolen can be devastating. Unfortunately, children, students and seniors are prime targets for identity thieves.

Child ID Theft
If your child's identity is stolen, they may not find out for many years - not until they attempt their first financial transactions – like opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, applying for a job, or applying for student loans. The longer the thief uses a child's identity, the harder it will be to unwind the damage.

Student ID Theft
College students are targeted because school registration, credit card offers, provide many opportunities to capture Social Security numbers and other personal information. Young adults are also known to be too trusting and careless with their information. Combine that with frequent address changes and un-forwarded mail and it is a group ripe for picking by criminals.

Senior ID Theft
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to identity theft, because most have significant retirement wealth, and are often unable to monitor their accounts carefully. Many seniors are also less knowledgeable about technology, and more trusting of strangers and marketers, more easily falling victim to scams and schemes designed specifically to target them.

What thieves will do with a stolen identity:

(Types of identity fraud)

Credit Fraud
Fraudulent loans and credit cards taken out in your name.

Bank Fraud
Account takeover and wire transfer fraud – draining your accounts before you know it.

Employment Fraud
Getting a job in your name, paying taxes in your name

Tax Fraud
Paying employment taxes and filing for refunds in your name

Social Security Fraud
Filing for social security benefits, leaving you with nothing when you retire.

Phone/Utilities Fraud
Open new cell phone or utility accounts in your name

Bankruptcy Fraud
Filing for bankruptcy protection after running up huge debt and not paying the bills – all using your name.

Medical Benefits Fraud
Using your health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid benefits to get medical attention
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