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Identity Theft - The Forms of Identity Theft

Aug 17, 2007
The main form of Identity Theft is credit theft. This is the most common and the one most people fear the most. Credit theft is only about 28% of identity theft. Bank fraud is 18%, phone and utility fraud is 19%, employment related fraud is 13%, Government documents & benefits fraud is 8% and medical fraud is growing. Bank fraud differs from credit fraud in several ways. With credit theft, once the crime is discovered and the victim is identified then their accounts are quickly cleared up. It's primarily a paperwork issue. In the case of bank fraud, the victim can loss a lot of money and possibly never recover it. It largely depends on how the money was removed from the account and it some cases to where the money was moved. There are a lot of laws protecting bank account owners, but there are many scenarios where it is difficult to impossible to determine if a person was really robbed. For example, a wired transfer to a country where it's impossible to investigate banking fraud.

Utility fraud is relatively easy to commit. Think about how little it took for you to establish phone or electrical service at your home. If a persons identity is fraudulently used to obtain utility service, it isn't difficult to resolve the problem relative to the other forms of identity theft, but it can indicate a much greater problem. The same information that was used to fraudulently establish utility service can be used to obtain credit. After all, even criminals need to furnish their home with two years same as cash furniture that most honest people do. By the time the payments come do on this new furniture, the criminal is probably onto their next location and victims.

Employment fraud should be particularly concerning to most Americans. With the rise in illegal immigration and terrorism, many people are entering the US illegally and using other peoples identities to slip quietly into the system. Others are using other peoples credentials to get better jobs. There are people out their that gladly change their identity to someone with a PhD, MBA or other college degree to establish themselves in a great job. There was a recent news series on a school principle that falsified much of his credentials to get his job. He never would have been caught except for an unrelated crime brought him into the light and his lies were exposed. This kind of identity theft affects everyone. What if a pedophile faked credentials to get a teaching job?

Millions of dollars are illegally obtained from our government every year with fraudulent identities. There are dozens of stories every year where a criminal organization used the elderly to obtain Social Security or Medicare funds. How many of the most fragile members of society are compromised and harmed every year because the wrong person got a hold of their Social Security Number? How many government grants and loans have been approved to an impersonator? Think about all the Katrina victims that were re-victimized by other people stealing their identity and claiming their aid.

Medical identity theft is growing. It is becoming more and more frequent where a ill person is seeking medical treatment under another persons identity. Most scenarios seem to be related to a drug addict trying to obtain more prescription drugs, but other desperate individuals are discovering the technique. Imagine the medical identity of a healthy 30 something father is compromised by someone with AIDS. This father wants to get a large life insurance policy to protect his family. What kind of trouble is he going experience when he is denied? In some cases, the insuring company won't even tell the applicant why their being denied.

Criminal identity is growing too. Imagine a street level drug dealer learns that he can extend his criminal career by assuming someone else's identity. He is arrested. Gives another persons name and address when booked, then doesn't appear for their court date. Guess who the police will be looking for when serving that warrant? Yes, the problem will be cleared up eventually, but will that be after the victim of the identity theft is humiliated by the arrest process? What if they're arrested at work or at home in front of the kids? And now, every time a criminal background check is run on this victim they are going to have to explain how they were a victim; if they even get a chance.
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Frank Brammer
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