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How to Avoid Identity Theft

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As damaging as identity theft can be and as vulnerable as we are to identity theft, there are a number of relatively simple things that you can do to make yourself less likely to become a victim of identity theft. In this chapter from 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age: New Financial Threats You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them, 2nd Edition, learn about different kinds of identity theft and how they can be avoided.
This chapter is from the book

Maybe Shakespeare was right when he said in Othello, “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;...but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.”

Let’s say you are at a car dealership and the salesman comes back with a long face and tells you the financing on the car you wanted to buy has been turned down, or the dealership has had to go to another loan source that means higher interest and payments. “But I have great credit,” you say.

In another scenario, you apply for another credit card and are turned down. In both cases, you are shown a copy of your credit report and find late-payment notices or applications for credit cards in other cities. Someone has stolen your identity.

Identity theft can result in your being hounded by debt collectors for debts you did not incur; becoming unable to access your own credit cards, bank accounts, or brokerage accounts; being arrested for crimes committed by people who have stolen your identity; or even receiving improper medical care because your medical identity has been stolen and your medical records have been corrupted. In addition, identity theft can ruin your credit rating, which can affect your chances to get a loan, get a job, get insurance, or rent a home.

Consumer Sentinel Network

The Consumer Sentinel Network is a government organization that collects millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement. According to its most recent data, identity theft is the number-one consumer complaint. Government documents/benefits fraud was the most common form of identity theft reported, credit card was the second most common form of identity theft, and phone and utilities fraud was the third most common form of identity theft, followed by bank fraud identity theft and loan fraud identity theft.

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