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Identity Theft and Money Scams - Are You Safe?

Apr 26, 2008
Identify theft is on the increase.

The FBI estimate that the number of individuals who become a victim of identity theft will increase between 500,000 and 700,000 each year. What's more it can sometimes take up to a year before some realises that they are a victim of identity fraud an average of 175 hours to clear their name.

I was reminded of these grim facts when I recently received a letter from the "International Lotto Commission" telling me that I had won 850,831 Euros.

The "Payment Release Form" asked for comprehensive details including:

1. Name
2. Sex
3. Date of Birth
4. Address
5. Nationality
6. Email address
7. Phone numbers
8. Bank details

Although, if I wanted a "certified bank cheque", the form stated that I didn't have to give my bank account details. However, even without my bank details, if I provided the rest of information, in the wrong hands my identity would be in serious jeopardy. They even wanted to know who my next of kin was.

The letter was covered with a mishmash of photocopied logos and other images that were supposed to add authenticity to the letter from Spain. There were typos and while there was a lot of information in the letter it didn't stand up to close scrutiny.

I immediately knew it was a scam and the only thing that snatched the letter from the jaws of my shredder was my decision to write about it.

For the problem is that people are falling for these types of money scams. They send fraudsters their money or their credit card or bank details. Armed with this information fraudsters can have a field day.

They can either make a single hefty withdrawal or they can withdraw small amounts of money over a longer period of time which may go unnoticed for months by someone who does not regularly and rigorously check their statements. You see, small amounts of money from multiple sources can result in rich pickings indeed for these criminals.

The FBI reports that it can sometimes take up to 12 months before someone realises that they are a victim of identity fraud. And, it can take up to 175 hours for someone to clear their name.

Other research has shown that:

~ 10 million Americans are victims of identity fraud each year
~ 20 million of UK householders are increasing their risk of being exposed to fraudsters by failing to take precautions against identity theft
~ 18 million UK households regularly throw away (without shredding) sensitive financial documents
~ 90% of all users never check their credit card or bank account statements
~ Identity theft is costing the British economy in excess of 1.7 billion pounds annually and the US economy in excess of $5 billion
~ The average UK adult is exposed to online identity theft to the tune of 10,000 pounds

However, it's not just individuals who are risk - businesses are vulnerable as well. The US Federal Trade Commission reports that the average loss for business victims is over $10,000 and that business identity theft is costing an estimated $48 billion per annum.

Therefore, be suspicious, be vigilant and take steps to ensure that you, your family and your business are safe.
About the Author
If you are concerned about identity theft and want to take measures to protect yourself online and offline and prevent becoming yet another identity theft statistic then visit Prevent Identity Theft for a low-cost yet effective solution. Safeguard your identity.
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