There were 11.2 million cases of identity theft during 2009, totaling $54 million in cost according to Javelin Strategy and Research’s blog. Javelin issues a yearly identity theft report, which makes it that much more interesting that the blog, written by the company’s CEO had his ID stolen 5-times!
There are two types of identity theft; the first, more common type, is when a crook steals credit card or banking information and makes purchases under your name. The second type occurs when thieves take over your identity, living as their victims. This more insidious type of theft occurs when the bad guys/gals forge documents using a victim’s Social Security number, often building a “fake life” that includes birth certificates, a license, and even faked school transcripts. This type of identity theft is also very difficult to combat because everything seems to be on the up-and-up; some victims of this type of fraud have even accumulated criminal records under an assumed identity!
Recently, Yahoo Finance published an article called “True Cases of Identity Theft” that highlight the depths some identity fraud reaches. One of the cases highlighted deals with a man who found out about his identity being stolen when he received a “thank you” card from a jewelry store after purchasing a Rolex…which, of course, he never purchased. The victim launched an impromptu investigation, calling the retailers to find out a phone number for the person masquerading in his identity; once he got the number, he called the thief and identified himself. The thief replied, “No. You’re not. I am,” before hanging up.
One man realized that an “ex” had been using his identity to charge items using accounts for which he never applied. Once the couple split, credit card statements began pouring in…to the tune of $68,000 in vacations, spa treatments, and a $6,000 loan which she’d sent to her family overseas.
Although victims often react quickly, the damage is usually done; credit scores are ruined and sometimes so are lives.