Identity theft has been the number one complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission for the past five years. Identity theft is a very serious crime that costs consumers and businesses time and money. Not only do identity theft victims spend money out of pocket to clear up their records, but they also must devote their time up to hundreds of hours in some cases doing so. In the meantime, victims are unjustly harassed by debt collectors, denied credit or employment opportunities, lose their cars or their homes, or are repeatedly arrested for crimes they did not commit.
In this computer age, our personal information is stored on countless databases, on servers which are either directly connected to the internet or indirectly via internal computer networks. Some or all of your financial information is stored by: banks, employers, the IRS, credit bureaus, Doctors, Health Insurance providers, Universities, marketing lists, and potentially anywhere you've ever paid for anything with a check or credit card (online & offline). Additionally, bits of your financial information are generated every day, in the form of: your name and address from pieces of junk mail, a restaurant receipt with your credit card number, ATM receipts, credit card bills, bank statements, etc.
Various ways that your personal information can be compromised, without your knowledge are:
- By a hacker who has managed to break into a database of any entity that stores your personal information.
- By your response to an email which appears to be from a business or service you already utilize, but rather is impersonating the entity.
- By a website which is posing as a valid and legitimate establishment.
- By an employee of a restaurant, store, bank, hospital, or any other entity that takes or stores some or all of your personal financial information.
- By a telephone marketer impersonating a business or service you are familiar with.
- By paying for a product or service, provided by an unscrupulous company or employee, with a check.
- By a hacker who has managed to install a virus or program on your personal computer which will intercept your personal information as you access it or enter it using your computer.
- By someone sifting through your trash, or the trash of any entity in receipt of your personal information.
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