Chapter 1 – How Identity Theft Can Affect You

Identity Theft can take many forms and the goal of the Thief may be for many specific purposes. The most common objective for people committing Identity Theft is for direct financial gain. They specifically want cash or products that they do not have to pay for to obtain. This can be by cashing stolen checks, abusing an existing credit card, obtaining a new credit card or opening credit accounts with businesses to purchase products and services (such as appliances or airline tickets).

According to a FTC survey, 85% of all Identity Theft victims reported that existing accounts had been misused, as opposed to having new accounts being created. Of those victims, 67% had credit cards abused, 19% had bank accounts (Checking, Savings, Investment, etc.) debited, 9% had telephone (conventional or wireless) services stolen, 3% had internet accounts abused and 2% experienced insurance fraud.

The same survey indicated 15% of the victims reported non-financial abuse, including Criminal activities committed in their name, government benefits received, housing rented, medical care obtained, jobs and employment offers received and tax return fraud.

If new accounts are created by thieves, almost half of the time it is for new credit cards. The balance of the new accounts are (1) personal loans (appliance, furniture, signature loans, etc); (2) utility services; (3) new checking/savings accounts; (4) internet accounts and even (5) insurance services.

An Identity Theft victim can encounter numerous problems. It is encountering these problems that often lead to the discovery of the Identity Theft in the first place. The main problems victims report are (1) Rejection for a credit card, (2) Being harassed by a collections agent, (3) Rejection for a major purchase loan, (4) Rejection for insurance, (5) having a Civil Suit filed against them, (6) having Utilities cut off or service refused for previous unpaid balances, (7) being investigated for a criminal matter, (8) being contacted by the IRS regarding tax liabilities and (9) having banking problems including having accounts drained or over drawn.

According to the FTC, an average of between $500 to $1,000 was the value of services or products received as the result of Identity Theft. Generally, if the abuse is on an existing account (Credit Cards, Utility, etc.) then the losses tend to be lower. However, when new accounts are opened using a victims personal information, the losses tend to be much higher, typically more then $5,000 and easily reaching over $10,000. And this does not count the time and money the victim will have to spend to repair the damage.

The sooner the abuse is discovered, the lower the amounts of fraud committed. Cases discovered and reported to Credit Reporting Bureaus, the banks, and the authorities within days or even hours can result in losses closer to $100s. However, when cases protract out over months, then the losses can add up to over $5,000 or more. Check fraud, however, can easily be the entire balance ($100 or $10,000) of the account in only a few days. Regardless of the type of fraud or the intent of the thief, the sooner you know, the better off you will be. The Seven Biggest Crimes You Commit Against Your Own Identity