Christian Credit Identity Theft
A growing concern among all Americans is Christian credit identity theft, which is a very serious threat to any person that has a social security number and/or a credit card. In recent years, story after story has broken over the airwaves and newspapers about banks losing massive amounts of personal information from customers, leaving them absolutely exposed to thieves who can use this information to steal not only someone's money but their complete identity. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that nine million Americans each year lose their identities to criminals. Credit identity theft is extremely serious because the crime may not be known until a person is contacted by a debt collector. Consider what can happen to almost any of us.
A criminal can commit credit identity theft by stealing a person's name, social security number and borrowing card number and then it becomes a race to see how much money can be taken and aggravation brought to the victim. Apartments can be rented, cell phones can be bought and used, cars bought, and vacations taken on someone else's good name and borrowing privileges. And by the time the deed is done and the victim is aware of the crime, the expense for correcting of all accounts may rise into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Worse yet, jobs may have been denied, loans denied and sometimes people are even arrested for crimes they did not commit, all because of credit identity theft. How do these criminals get this information?
The most elementary of thieves go dumpster diving. Searching through someone's trash, garbage, apartment or business dumpsters and other trash receptacles is the easiest way for that kind of uncreative criminal to seize personal information. Of course, there are the also uncreative thieves who just steal wallets and purses, mail and if they can weasel their way into an office, steal personnel files. Credit identity theft criminals also get pretty creative when they walk into a post office and fill out a change of address form, diverting a victim's mail, including pre approved plastic card offers, bank statements and other tasty morsels filled with information. Identity theft can leave someone feeling violated and abused, and the temptation is to be filled with hatred towards those who perpetrate such a crime, but Jesus had these words to say. "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
Criminals have also committed credit identity theft by using electronic devices that store your plastic card information when you use the card at a store to pay for an item. Also these ne'er-do-wells send messages over the Internet trying to get people to reveal their information. In addition, they might use false pretenses to get a person's information. For example, they might call, pretending to be an officer from a person's bank, asking for permission to open one's account to make a security check. Once a password has been obtained, the deed is done.
To help prevent such theft from happening, a close monitor each month of plastic card bills and bank statements is essential. In this day and age nothing can be taken for granted. In addition, many consumers have chosen to hire the services of companies that guarantee credit identity theft will not happen on their watch. The fees for this monitoring and safeguarding of information are quite nominal in many cases and can provide a sense of security for the consumer. These companies can be found online.
There are some rights that a consumer has that may not be well known to the public. A fraud alert can be placed on any person's borrowing history file which means that anyone wanting to issue borrowing privleges in the consumer's name must first contact that consumer. Secondly, the law states that everyone can obtain a free borrowing report once a year from each of the three major borrowing history reporting companies. That means that once every four months, a consumer can use one of these companies to check for any anomalies in their borrowing history. Consumers can put credit freezes into place, which means no potential creditor can have access to one's borrowing history unless the freeze is lifted. Many of the services that companies offer to protect a consumer's identity can actually be done by the consumer for no charge at all. Taking personal responsibility for actions that the consumer can take himself can save quite a bit of money that would otherwise go into the coffers of plastic card protection companies.
If a person is a victim of credit identity theft, a police report is extremely important to file. This becomes the basis on which extra credit reports can be offered by the three major borrowing history reporting companies. In addition, put a fraud alert or a credit freeze on all accounts so no one can apply for more credit using a victim's name. Third, accounts that have tampered with or opened fraudulently should be closed immediately, and talking personally to the security people at each of the plastic card companies or creditors and telling them what has happened is extremely important. In addition, letters must be sent to each company stating the same information again, and it is important that certified letters are used so that proof of receivership has been established. Be sure and write down every person's name and the date and time of each conversation so that deniability can be quashed if needed.
Christian Identity ThievesThe devastation that identity thieves can bring into the lives of victims can have long term ramifications. The theft of another individual's name can also mean the use and abuse of the victim's good reputation and credit rating. This type of fraud will frequently involve taking out credit cards and other types of charge accounts in the victim's name. Of course, the thief will feel no obligation to make payments on these accounts, and the credit rating of the defrauded individual will be ruined. There are also other ways in which identity thieves can wreak havoc in the lives of their victims. A thief might assume other identities for the purpose of financial theft. Other criminals might pose as someone else in order to avoid authorities, particularly if they are wanted for another crime. Identity cloning will involve taking on the persona of another actual person and living as that person every day. Obtaining credit under another person's name is only one way that a victim's name and reputation can be stolen. Among the other crimes that could be committed by these criminals are blackmail, illegal immigration, espionage, or obtaining medical insurance under false pretenses. Individuals should carefully guard social security numbers. It's wise to be very wary when asked to share this number, particularly when there seems to be no good reason behind the request. Attaining a victim's social security numbers is one method that frequently used to steal identities.
Unfortunately, the raw materials that identity thieves use to ply their trade can be easy to gain access too. Whenever a consumer applies for credit, all of the information that is needed for identity theft is given away in the application. Anyone who sees this information could use this data to perpetrate financial or other types of fraud on the unsuspecting victim. If an individual looses a wallet, this could open up that individual to fraud and theft. In general, it's wise to only carry items in a wallet that are absolutely necessary. Anything that reveals a social security number might best be left at home. For this reason, many states have stopped listing social security numbers on driver's licenses since this could make citizens more vulnerable to identity thieves. A thief might also gain access to personal information by stealing a victim's mail. The risk of this happening can be limited by picking up mail as soon as possible and not letting mail build up in the mailbox. Of course, becoming overly careful and suspicious is not a good idea either. There are times when revealing personal information is both necessary and appropriate. An employer will need this information if the employee expects to be paid. Landlords will need such data as well.
It's never a good idea to give these facts out to someone who is soliciting sales or services over the phone or through email. Some identity thieves will pose as customer support for an organization that the victim is already affiliated with and request social security numbers and other data through email or telephone. These scammers will then use the information for fraudulent purposes. Other sources of personal data that could be used to perpetrate theft are bank statements, credit card statements, tax information, and personal business records. Criminals will even stoop to rummaging through a potential victim's trash to gain access to this data. If a consumer believes that someone may be using their social security number for illegal purposes, they should contact authorities immediately. The Federal Trade Commission should be contacted if an individual believes that identity thieves are creating credit issues for them. If all else fails, it may be possible to be granted a new social security number if there is no other way to fix the problem. However, the victim will need to provide evidence of the continuing misuse of a social security number. A new number will most likely not solve all of the victim's problems, but this can be a place to start. There are also thieves that might gain access to vital information through public records searches, Internet searches, or government data banks. Even social networking sites can be sources of needed data for these criminals. Many participants on these sites will unwittingly post facts about themselves that could be used by unscrupulous individuals.
Medical records are another area that needs careful protection from identity thieves. Some criminals will steal patient data and using it for fraud. A consumer should question all medical providers about the kinds of security measures and precautions that they take with these vital records. The fact that this kind of theft is so widespread can plant fear in the hearts of many consumers. The security that is offered by God is frequently mentioned in the Bible. The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
There are professional services that can monitor credit activities and alert clients to any suspicious behavior that might indicate that identity thieves are at work. In addition, there are steps that Christian consumers themselves can take to monitor their own credit. Checking all credit card statements is always a good idea. Monitoring bank statements is important as well. Any kind of unauthorized activity should raise a red flag. Unfortunately, remaining alert to these issues and taking proactive and preventative action against identity theft has become a fact of life in today's society.