Identity theft won't always show up on credit report
Times are changing.
Ten years ago, shredders were found only
in offices, Social Security numbers were used as identification numbers
and people didn't think twice about throwing canceled checks in the
Today, things are different...
Shredders are becoming
a common household appliance, the Social Security number is no longer
used as a "public" identification number and most people think twice
about tossing canceled checks and other confidential information in the
The reason for these changes is that identity theft is now the fastest growing white collar crime in the nation.
a computer technician, I am consulted just about weekly by people and
businesses on how to protect personal and private information. At the
start of these consultations we go through a question-and-answer period
where I try to assess where the risks are. What kinds of information
are at risk, how that information is stored and how that information
may be vulnerable. The more I do this, the more I see certain patterns
First, there seems to be a misconception that identity
theft is primarily a financial issue. In other words, people are
surprised to learn that you can have your identity stolen and never
have it show up on your credit report or even have the event be related
to a bank account or credit card.
If your identity is stolen it
could be used by someone to get medical treatment in your name and next
thing you know your medical records are now corrupted with someone
else's blood type and medical history. This is a bad situation that
your credit monitoring service won't necessarily catch.
An identity thief might use your good name as an alias while committing a crime.
a credit monitoring service won't alert you when this happens. You are
likely to find out about it when the police show up at your door with a
warrant because the guy using your name never showed up in court.
second misconception is what I call the "locking the barn after the
horse has been stolen" syndrome. People tend to get lulled into a false
sense of security once they start enacting good habits, such as
securing their computers, shredding personal information and actively
taking steps to protect their identities.
These are definitely
some good habits people must get into, but even if your computer and
your information is locked up like fort Knox, keep in mind your
information is already "out there in the world."
As we go through
life and do common things, such as apply for loans, medical insurance,
drivers licenses and such, we are invariably giving out that same
information that we are protecting at home. The questions you need to
ask yourself are, "How many companies out there already have my
information" and "Are these companies taking the same steps to
safeguard my information as I am?"
In most cases, they are.
Unfortunately, in some cases that answer is no. Just about every week
we can hear on the news about some bank or other organization that has
a computer stolen or somehow looses a bunch of people's information.
Sometimes millions of identities are compromised.
It is important to have something in place before the unthinkable
happens. Click http://www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/smccarthy75 to get the
protection we all need.
Sean McCarthy is an independent associate for Pre Paid Legal
Services and fixes computers over the Internet. He can be reached at
(772) 621-5515 or at help@ComputeThisOnline.com