Fastest Growing Crimes in the US Today
We don’t automatically think “identity theft” when we think about securing our homes and yet ID theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the US today. Last year, over twelve million Americans had their identity stolen and had to travel a rocky road to get it back.
The last boom Identity theft experienced had little to do with home security and everything to do with the Internet. Consumers had discovered social media and Internet shopping and were happily putting all sorts of personal information out in cyberspace.
Dramatic improvements in Internet security have made it harder for the bad guys to get your personal information. Those criminal syndicates that feed on the buying and selling of stolen information have had to look elsewhere. Today a burglar with connections to organized crime can tap into the big money in home burglaries by selling personal information at a big price.
ID Theft – a Big Business
Ever one to grab an opportunity, your average greedy burglar is anxious to get his share! ID information is popping up on “most- stolen-items” lists all over the web, but before you think to yourself, “That’s not so terrible.” Think again. That personal identifiable data, acquired through the theft of a wallet, purse, or home burglary is where identity theft usually begins.
With an alarmed security system in place, thieves will most likely pass your home by and move on to an easier target keeping your identity in place. In the unlikely event that you are burgled, be sure to not have personal and business information lying around your house. Go paperless in your home office so that there will be a minimum of printed material there for burglars to find. And always shred everything before you throw it away.
Insuring the un-Insurable
Most home insurance policies will have a provision for identity theft but this type of policy will have limited cover. If you are a victim of identity theft, re-establishing your credit and identity will be expensive. ID theft insurance cannot protect you from becoming a victim and will not cover direct monetary losses caused by a theft. What the insurance will do is cover the cost of recouping your financial identity; charges you will incur with phone calls, copying documentation, mailing documents, lost wages and attorney fees.
To Stop the Villains in Their Tracks
The biggest problem is that after a break-in, you may not even realize that your identity is at risk. Your thieves may not directly sell your data on for a few months. Identity theft can take weeks, months or even years to surface after a break-in. And at first you may not even know how your data was harvested. If you have had a burglary and have any reason to suspect that the thieves cleared out with more than goods and chattels, follow these strategies recommended by the experts. This then is what you should do immediately to save both your hard-earned dosh and your good credit.
- Tell the three main Credit Reporting Companies – Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion – that you are a victim of identity theft and set up fraud alerts.
- Check if any ATM or Credit cards are missing and report the lost cards to your creditors.
- Report the crime to your local police department and FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
- Change all your online passwords.
- Secure all other accounts from the thieves by altering all your account access information.
- Have your Social Security number changed and get a new card.
- Get a new driver’s license number and card; you will have to to take a new photo and pay all the normal costs.
- Write everything down. You’ll be talking to detectives, creditors and businesses. Keep a record of who you spoke to, their title, the date, the time and brief notes of the discussion.
Victims of ID theft are quick to point out that there are no guarantees that you’ll ever be able to get back your old “normal” after your identity is stolen. But Identity theft doesn’t have to destroy your credit or your life. Stay calm and take these necessary steps. You’ll recover from this traumatic experience, create a new “normal” and thwart the crooks.