How could this have happened? This Could Be You..
For over six years, Jerry has been a victim of identity theft. The credit bureaus have placed a fraud alert on his credit report, but that has not stopped the impostor. Jerry has not been able to purchase a home because of having a bad credit report.
Identity theft is a serious crime. I've discovered while doing research for my Identify Theft Book, that people whose identities have been stolen can spend years and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of a good name and credit record. In the mean time, victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes they did not commit. Humiliation, anger, and frustration are among the feelings victims experience as they navigate the process of rescuing their identity.
12 Ways Identity Thieves Attack
Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to gain access to your data. Identity thieves get your personal information from businesses or other institutions by:
- stealing records or information while they are on the job
- bribing an employee who has access to these records
- hacking these records
- conning information out of employees
Additionally, identity thieves may:
- steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information.
- rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or public trash dumps in a practice known as “dumpster diving.”
- get your credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access your report.
- steal your credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as “skimming.” They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you may enter or swipe your card.
- steal your wallet or purse.
- complete a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.
- steal personal information they find in your home.
- steal personal information from you through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that you have a problem with your account. This practice is known as “phishing” online, or pretexting by phone.
Even though victims are usually not saddled with paying their impostor’s bills, they are often left with a bad credit report and must spend months and even years regaining their financial health. In the mean time, they have difficulty writing checks, obtaining loans, renting apartments, and even getting hired.
Victims of identity theft find almost no help from the authorities as they attempt to untangle the web of deception that has allowed another person to impersonate them.
Take the time to put safe guards in place to protect your identify and not let it's negative credit impact derail your real estate investing career.