Christian Identity Fraud Protection

For today's consumers, Christian identity fraud protection is an important issue. Each year, millions of people are affected by this crime which takes on many different forms. The remarkable growth in online shopping and banking, combined with increased accessibility to public records through online databases, provide opportunities for dishonest individuals and criminal rings to gain unprecedented access to personal information. The methods for stealing personal and financial information range from the old-fashioned theft of wallets and pocketbooks to sophisticated phishing and skimming using innovative technologies. The consequences range from the inconvenience of canceling credit cards to an expensive and time-consuming effort to clean up the mess left behind by the thieves. A victim may find himself faced with legal problems that are so serious he needs to keep an official document with him at all times that explains that he is not the same individual wanted by the police for criminal activity. Scenarios like this are frightening. The possibility of facing such a circumstance should be incentive enough to consider personal identity fraud protection.

A thief can steal a person's wallet and get enough information to create havoc for that person. A criminal can go dumpster diving, a fancy alliterative term for going through trash, and come up with sensitive materials. A driver's license or other government identification provides thieves with a name and date of birth. With credit cards, thieves can go on a shopping spree. Credit card applications that have been tossed in the trash can be filled out with a different address so that the victim doesn't even know her name, and her excellent credit rating, has been used to apply for credit. These situations show that identity fraud protection begins at home with personal responsibility. There are steps that prudent consumers can take to minimize their risks. Of course, everyone needs to carry a driver's license or some other form of government identification, but a social security card needs to stay at home in a safe place or in a safe deposit box. Individuals are well-advised to carry as few credit and debit cards as possible. Credit card applications should be shredded before put out in the trash. Additionally, individuals should shred other documents, such as outdated utility bills and monthly credit card statements instead of just throwing them away. A shredder, especially one that shreds plastic cards, is a good investment for consumers who want to take personal responsibility for their identity fraud protection.

Making copies of all credit cards, both front and back, and keeping these copies in a safe place, is another great idea. With this copy as a reference, a consumer can easily contact bank issuers if the cards are lost or stolen. The major companies provide protection for consumers under these circumstances if unauthorized charges are placed on the account, but they need to be notified as soon as possible. The accounts will be closed and new ones opened with replacement cards sent to the consumer. The repercussions from losing a driver's license may be harder to overcome. With a name and address, an enterprising thief may rent an apartment and arrange for utilities. When the bills aren't paid, the person whose license was stolen may be held responsible for the debt. Losing a social security number may allow someone to steal government benefits or to even get a job. The difficulty with these types of fraud is that the person whose identity is being used may not even be aware of the duplicity until much later. This is just another reason for paying attention to issues of identity fraud protection and taking proactive steps to minimize one's chances of becoming a victim.

The criminals who prey on others do not fear the commandment of God that: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another" (Leviticus 19:11). They take whatever opportunities that are available to enrich themselves at the expense of others. New technologies have made it easier in some ways for thieves to collect personal and financial records. In response, consumers need to be more vigilant in their identity fraud protection practices. For example, a couple goes out for a nice evening meal. When the bill is presented, the couple's credit card is casually handed over to the waiter who takes it away to settle the bill. The waiter returns with the card and the receipt and the couple goes home. But unknown to them, the waiter swiped the plastic through a handheld device that recorded the financial data. With the data, the waiter can create a counterfeit card. This type of theft is known as skimming. Weeks may go by before the couple is aware that the data was stolen. The best way to counteract skimming is to keep an eye on one's plastic. Experts also suggest that consumers monitor their credit reports. Individuals have the right, by congressional law, to receive one free report annually from each of the three major reporting agencies. Additionally, the agencies and other vendors provide a monitoring service for a monthly fee. Consumers can compare the different identity fraud protection plans to find the best one to suit their individual needs.

Businesses, especially those who operate online, need to put protections in place so that customers feel secure in providing financial information as they make purchases or conduct financial transactions. Consumers have a responsibility to be smart while online. In a type of theft called phishing, criminal rings use spam email and pop-up ads to entice consumers to voluntarily provide financial and personal data. Sometimes the rings pose as banks or other companies and obtain account numbers from the unwary. Online companies have concerns, too. Sellers want to know that a shopper is legitimate and not making purchases with stolen information. In response to these needs, applications have been especially designed to combat identity fraud protection. Several companies offer these products and market them to online businesses.

Christian Identity Protection

A myriad of identity protection firms have spawned from an increase in credit card fraud and impersonation of private citizens. Identity theft costs taxpayers approximately $52 billion dollars a year. The most infamous white collar crime promises to increase significantly as thieves utilize sophisticated schemes and high-tech hacking devices to infiltrate personal and corporate computers and steal confidential information worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even federal mandates and the threat of imprisonment cannot deter crooks from stealing, killing and destroying an innocent individual's identity, reputation and credit worthiness. Companies that offer identity protection may provide insurance against theft of assets and unauthorized use of credit; restoration of authentic documentation; contact and advocacy with banks and lenders to resolve delinquent accounts; legal representation in the case of litigation stemming from fraudulent business practices or contractual obligations; and help in prosecuting criminals. There is one advocate who has never lost a case. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).

Some firms offer policies which offer identity protection on an annual basis for a premium, much like life insurance. Policyholders pay a monthly fee in exchange for having their consumer credit reports monitored. Monitoring agents peruse reports to detect unusual activity or a sudden change in spending habits which differ from the account holder's. If new revolving charges are opened or exorbitant purchases are made with a client's credit card, it sends a red flag to surveillance agencies that there is probably unauthorized usage. Identity protection insurance policies may settle with creditors for fraudulent loan payments and unauthorized purchases and offer legal representation to help victims of identity theft restore their credit and reputation. When individuals and businesses become victims, stolen documentation, such as drivers' licenses, Social Security cards, business licenses, and personal and corporate credit cards must be replaced and accounts closed immediately to avoid incurring excessive debt. Firms that specialize in notifying creditors and helping individuals open new accounts while tracking down ID bandits are an invaluable aid to victims.

In the event that confidential information for an individual or business is compromised, the stakes can be high. Corporations stand to lose millions of dollars and a breach in the security of servers carrying sensitive data can cost the company and its employees in lost revenue and credit. Hackers can sell bank account and Social Security numbers, charge card digits, and home and auto loan documentation on the black market and make millions. Unscrupulous criminals post stolen charge cards on bidding websites open for the highest bidder. Illegal immigrants pay dearly to purchase Social Security numbers belonging to the deceased or unwary victims just to avoid deportation and to secure jobs and housing in the United States. Sometimes immigrants are victimized just as much as those who are impersonated when criminals extort money from illegals who are only seeking independence and a fresh start in what they deem to be the land of opportunity. Identity protection can help stop immigrants and U.S. citizens from being exploited.

Attorneys and other legal professionals recognize the devastation that fraudulence can wreak on unsuspecting and innocent victims. Some are willing to defend clients pro bono and to present a formidable case on behalf of those who unwittingly find themselves knee deep in debt because of theft or fraud. If identity protection attorneys succeed in convincing creditors that loan defaults and delinquent accounts are a result of theft, most creditors will settle for partial repayment or write off debts. Consumer credit counseling agencies may also be instrumental in helping to restore creditworthiness after fraudulent charge card usage. An individual who has worked hard to maintain a good to excellent rating only to be duped by ID bandits and charge card thieves may be able to avoid prosecution if counseling agents can show documentation of previous good payment histories.

The best identity protection practices include safeguarding personal and confidential information and keeping banking records, home mortgage, car loan, and other financial documentation under lock and key. Paperless Internet banking is safer than running the risk of ID bandits stealing cancelled checks, statements, and receipts from the trash can or curbside dumpster; and digital data is more difficult to obtain. But when it comes to managing finances and keeping account numbers secure, PC users should be careful to install firewalls, virus protection, and spyware on home or office computers. A little known fact is that hackers can infiltrate personal computers when users allow other individuals remote assistance or access to their systems. Enabling remote assistance on a home PC opens a gateway for hackers to slip into a personal computer system and take a look around at any confidential data that is on the hard drive. To avoid hackers and criminals from infiltrating cyberspace, PC users should change passwords often and make sure that when online technicians provide remote assistance that the remote is disabled after repairs or installations are completed.

Finding a Christian identity protection agency is as simple as typing keywords into a search engine. But a word to the wise: before committing confidential information online or over the phone, make sure that the individual on the other end of the line is legitimate. Never give Social Security numbers or personal identification numbers (PINs) over the phone or within earshot of others. You never know who is standing by with pen and paper ready to steal digits or commit them to memory. If impersonation, unauthorized credit card usage, or fraudulent account activity is suspected, do not pass "go!" Run to the nearest phone and contact creditors and law enforcement as soon as possible. The sooner suspected criminal activity is reported, the less liable victims will be for unauthorized usage.

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