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What do all financial services commercials have in common? Bottom line: to create or nurture trust. This important goal is at the heart of the creative (story, images, messaging) and the essence of the voiceover in anything finance. Money is a touchy issue and can foster anxiety and fear. The cash itself is not what people actually care about, but what it represents – freedom, security, space, time, independence, community, pride, experiences (travel), the ability to pursue your passions, relaxation, status, choice. Sound right?
But the flip side of that coin is stamped with the negative emotions surrounding the lack of understanding about money, and by the shortage, waste or loss of money. Financial shortfalls bring disappointment, frustration, and the feeling that banks and financial service companies don’t really care about their clients or customers.
For these reasons, the message, the story, the voiceover work in concert to build and solidify trust. We go to investment advisors for retirement, for savings accounts, for saving money for transactions or on loans. The financial services sector includes credit unions, banks, brokers, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, general and life insurance, mortgages, and fin tech, like digital services. Done well, ads for products or services target messages to address consumer concerns and offer solutions.
To the consumer whose eyes glaze over at mutual funds and investments, the messaging centers on being complication free. A matching voiceover might be friendly and warm, light-hearted or reassuring. The sound and mood counter the scary and bring relief.
Mortgages and educational savings products can be big long-term ventures. People undertaking them are looking for a partner not an institution. Sincerity, heart and authenticity speak volumes in these ads.
Fin tech produces results for issues in today’s world. Messaging, story and voice over in these ads range from the savvy and authoritative to the modern, confident sophisticate.
It’s a fine line to ride. Listeners and viewers like to think the decisions they make are logical, but purchase decisions are almost always emotional, then backed with logical justifications. The most well-crafted ads for financial services do both.
Female voice over artist Kim Handysides has narrated hundreds of commercials for the financial services sector and coaches actors how to connect with messages to drive results for clients.
Internet identity theft can be different from common identity theft in several ways, and it is also more difficult to detect. Whereas common identity theft often involves physical stealing, such as credit cards, mail, checks and identification cards, internet theft steals confidential documents, such as receipts and tax returns, from individuals’ computers without their knowledge.
Personal home computers collect and store all sorts of personal information, like cache, browser history, temporary internet files, and passwords, deep within individuals’ hard drives. These files can be used by internet thieves and hackers to reconstruct confidential information, including credit card and social security numbers, addresses, and login ids.
Malware is uploaded onto individuals’ computers through emails, unsecured websites, downloads and by clicking on links. Internet identity thieves and hackers primarily harvest confidential information through malware subtypes, such as:
What Malware is, and how it occurs
Malware is any malicious software that is designed to infiltrate, destroy or damage a computer system, and includes viruses, Trojan horses, worms, rootkits, backdoors, spyware, adware, and crimeware.
Viruses are computer programs that are able to replicate themselves and infect a computer without the computer owner’ consent. Computer viruses spread by infecting files, a computer’s specific system areas and/or a network router’s hard drive. It then makes copies of itself. Viruses are primarily spread through emails, attachments and unsecured websites, and are designed to either damage computer files or spread to other computers.
Trojan horses are computer programs that hide viruses or other malware subtypes. Trojan horses may disguise themselves as legitimate computer programs, but in fact, they perform damaging actions on computers. Trojan horses are oftentimes contracted when users download free software or email attachments.
Worms are a certain type of virus that spreads through self-replication. Worms generally use networks to send copies of themselves to other computers on a network, and they take up valuable bandwidth and memory, which can cause a computer to be nonresponsive. Hackers are also able to gain access to users’ computers and steal information through worms.
Rootkits are software programs that are designed to hide the fact that a hacker has gained access to a user’s computer. They are difficult to detect, and it sometimes takes years to discover them. Once a hacker has gained access to a computer, they will install a rootkit so that they are able to continually access that same computer without being detected.
Backdoors, similar to rootkits, also provide hackers access to users’ computers by hiding the fact that a hacker has gained access to a user’s computer.
Spyware is software that is downloaded onto a user’s computer with the intent of collecting their personal information and monitoring their internet browsing habits. Spyware also collects users’ personal information, redirects web browser activity and installs additional software. This results in slower connection speeds, unauthorized changes in homepages, and damage to other programs. Spyware is downloaded onto users’ computers through pop-ups, software installations and websites.
Adware is a type of software that when downloaded, results in advertisement banners and pop-ups. This can result in slower connections, and it can also make users’ computer systems unstable. Some adware will also monitor user habits and information, and potentially sell it to third parties. Adware can be downloaded unsuspectingly when users download free software such as computer games, wallpapers, advanced search engines, peer-to-peer programs, and other programs.
Crimeware is any computer program designed to aid in illegal online activities. Some types of crimeware gather users’ personal information illegally by installing keyloggers, which record everything that is typed, and other crimeware aids in online phishing by providing tools to con artists. Crimeware can be installed unknowingly through vulnerabilities in web applications, email, and peer-to-peer sharing networks.
What can happen
Hackers use malware to obtain users’ confidential information, such as account and social security numbers, addresses, tax information, and other information that can be used for some sort of monetary gain. With the above personal information, hackers and internet thieves can commit a variety of crimes, such as:
- Identity theft
- Thieves can use individuals’ account numbers to open fraudulent bank accounts, apply for credit, and make large purchases.
- Employment fraud
- Thieves can use individuals’ identities to obtain employment falsely. All they need is an individual’s social security number, account number and personal details, such as date of birth and addresses.
- Black market identity selling
- Thieves can log onto black market websites and sell individuals’ personal information, such as account numbers, identification numbers and addresses, to other thieves. Oftentimes complete identities are sold for as little as $14.00 on these illegal websites.
Notorious Computer Viruses
Computer viruses have existed for over 25 years, and there have been several notorious computer viruses along the years. The more recent ones have included:
- Love Bug (2000)
- The Love Bug virus was spread through email attachments by disguising itself as a love letter. When the recipient opened the attachment, the virus sent copies of itself to their address books.
- Sasser (2004)
- This virus caused computers to continually crash and reboot themselves, and it infected millions of computers around the world.
- Mydoom (2004)
- This worm was the fastest spreading email worm ever, and it was commissioned by spammers to send junk-emails out to computer users via infected computers.
How to Protect Against Malware
Individuals can protect themselves against malware by practicing commonsense precautions when surfing the internet and checking emails:
- 1) Do not click on every link that is received through email or instant messages. Oftentimes, malware is embedded in links and emails. It is important to not open any sort of suspicious links or emails, even if they are from a familiar person.
- 2) Do not download free applications over file sharing networks, such as LimeWire. Malware, such as spyware, adware and Trojans, may be embedded in the downloaded programs. Only download software from a trusted, secure website.
- 4) Use a firewall. Users should turn on their Windows firewalls and any firewalls that they have in their home routers.
- 5) Upgrade any software applications. All software programs, including Quicktime and Acrobat Reader, should be updated on a consistent basis to protect against program vulnerabilities.
- 6) Apply patches. Users should apply patches to their computers to also protect against vulnerabilities.
- 7) If users use peer-to-peer sharing programs, they should save their important files in file folders other than “my documents”. P2P sharing programs have access to contents in the “my documents” folder by default, and can share confidential files with thousands of users.
In addition to following these commonsense tips, individuals should also:
- 1) Install a reputable anti-virus program.
- All computer users should install a reputable anti-virus program, such as Norton or McAfee Antivirus, before surfing the internet or downloading files. Reputable anti-virus programs will protect against most malware, including worms and Trojans, but they will not protect against adware and spyware.
- 2) Install a reputable anti-spyware program.
- Computer users should also install a reputable anti-spyware program, such as Kaspersky or Spyware Doctor, in order to protect against malicious spyware and adware.
- 3) Install firewalls.
- Firewalls should also be installed to protect against unauthorized outside access. PCs generally have built-in firewalls that need to be turned on.
- 4) Update all anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs.
- All anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall programs should be constantly updated in order to protect against the latest malware advances.
Identity theft companies, such as LifeLock and TrustedID, also provide customers with computer protection by offering spam and junk mail removal. These companies also scan the online black markets to see if customers’ information is being bought or sold, and if identity theft should occur, these companies will combat it through credit freezes, fraud alerts and much more.
Hackers and internet thieves primarily use various subtypes of malware to infiltrate and compromise users’ computers, thereby harvesting confidential information. This information can then be sold or used to commit identity theft and other types of fraud. It is important for all computer users to safeguard their computers and confidential files by exercising commonsense and by installing protective software.
Online identity theft differs from other forms of identity theft that occur in the physical world. Internet identity theft can often prove difficult to detect. The physical kind typically involves theft of such things as credit cards, checkbooks, mail and identification cards. The online kind, on the other hand, involves the theft of such confidential documents as receipts and tax returns. Because it happens digitally, Internet identity theft escapes the victim’s notice for a long time.
More than simply a tool for communication and information processing, your personal computer functions as vast repository of information. On its hard drive sit a Web cache, browser history, temporary Internet files, and stored passwords and usernames. Cyber-fraudsters hack personal computers in search of these files, as they can use them to reconstruct confidential information – credit card and banking account numbers, Social Security numbers, addresses, login IDs.
Malware: Its Definition and Varieties
These fraud-minded hackers rely on malware to infiltrate a personal computer and grab the data they want. Any malicious software designed to destroy or damage a computer, or to breach its defenses, counts as malware. Uploaded onto personal computers via e-mail attachments, unsecured websites, dodgy downloaded files and dubious hyperlinks, malware comes in a variety of types:
- Trojan horses;
A type of software that when downloaded conjures advertisement banners and pop-ups, adware slows connections – often to the point of rendering unstable the user’s computer system. Some adware also monitors user habits and information, with the possible intent of selling it to third parties. Such free software as computer games, wallpapers, advanced search engines, peer-to-peer programs, and other files figure as so many potential conduits for adware.
Backdoors provide a hacker access to an infected computer, and it conceals any trace of this appropriation.
Any computer program designed to aid illegal online activities counts as crimeware. Some types of crimeware gather users’ personal information illegally by installing keyloggers, which record everything the user types; while others enable phishing by providing tools to con artists. Vulnerabilities in web applications, email, and peer-to-peer sharing networks represent ways crimeware can find itself onto a personal computer.
Software programs designed to conceal the fact that a hacker has gained access to a user’s computer, rootkits can take years to discover on your hard drive. With a rootkit a hacker essentially hijacks the affected computer; he can access it any time he wishes, and can devote it to any purpose he chooses.
Programs that conceal viruses, Trojan horses disguise themselves with an appearance of legitimacy and trustworthiness, but the intent behind them speaks to something quite insidious. Users often pick up Trojan horses when they download free software or unverified email attachments.
Viruses have the ability to replicate themselves. In so doing they can infiltrate a personal computer without the owner’s consent. Cyber-crooks spread viruses by infecting files, a computer’s specific system’s area or network router. Once established in one of these spots the virus begins to replicate itself.
Another kind of self-replicating virus, worms generally use networks to send copies of themselves to other computers on a network, taking up valuable bandwidth and memory. This hogging of bandwidth and memory forces a computer into nonresponsivess. Worms also make it possible for hackers to gain access to users’ computers in order to steal information.
The Effects and Consequences of Internet Identity Theft
Hackers use malware to obtain users’ confidential information, such as account and social security numbers, addresses, tax information, and other data with which they can realize some monetary gain. The kinds of crime they can commit with this information include the following:
- Identity theft – Thieves can use individuals’ account numbers to open fraudulent bank accounts, apply for credit and make large purchases.
- Employment fraud – Thieves can use individuals’ identities to obtain employment falsely. They require only a social security number, account number and personal details (date of birth, current and prior street addresses).
- Black market identity traffic – Thieves can log onto black market websites and sell individuals’ personal information, such as account numbers, identification numbers and addresses, to their colleagues. Often, complete identities command as small a price as $14.00 on these illegal websites.
Notorious Computer Viruses
In existence for over 25 years, computer viruses has established quite a history of devastation. Noteworthy recent ones include the following:
- Love Bug (2000) – Spread through email attachments by disguising itself as a love letter, this virus replicated itself by copying itself to recipients’ address books.
- Sasser (2004) – This virus caused millions of infected computers around the world continuously to crash and reboot themselves.
- Mydoom (2004) – One of the fastest spreading email worms ever, this virus sent junk emails to users via infected computers.
- Stuxnet (2010) – Designed to jump from computer to computer using human and network pathways, this virus kept moving until it found a specific, well-protected control system, which it would then destroy.
Guarding Against Malware
A few commonsense precautions when surfing the Web and checking emails can protect users from malware:
- Do not click on every link sent to you through email and instant messenger. Oftentimes, links and emails hide malware. Even if they are from a familiar person, suspicious email and linked should remain unopened.
- Do not download free applications over file-sharing networks, such as LimeWire, Filestube, Megaupload or Pirate Bay. Spyware, adware and Trojans may lurk in the downloaded programs. Download software only from trusted, secure websites.
- Use a firewall. Users should turn on their Windows firewalls and any firewalls they have in their home routers.
- Upgrade any software applications, and update all software programs, including Quicktime and Acrobat Reader.
- Apply patches. Users should apply patches to their computers to also protect against vulnerabilities.
- If you happen to download files from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, save other important or sensitive documents in a folder other than the one designated “My Documents.” P2P sharing programs have access to contents in the “My Documents” folder by default, and can share confidential files with thousands of users.
In addition to heeding the above common-sense advices, individuals should also:
- Install a reputable antivirus program. All computer users should install a reputable antivirus program, such as Norton or McAfee Antivirus, before surfing the Internet or downloading files. Reputable antivirus programs protect against most malware, including worms and Trojans, but not against adware and spyware.
- Install a reputable antispyware program. Computer users should also install a reputable antispyware program, such as Kaspersky or Spyware Doctor, in order to protect against malicious spyware and adware.
- Install firewalls. Firewalls guard against unauthorized outside access. Personal computers generally have built-in firewalls, which users need to remember to turn on.
- Update all antivirus, antispyware and firewall programs. Regularly updating antivirus, antispyware and firewall programs protects against the latest malware advances.
Such identity theft protection companies as LifeLock and TrustedID offer spam and junk-mail removal. They also scan online black markets for evidence of traffic in their customers’ sensitive information. In the event that they should uncover such evidence should occur, they issue credit freezes, fraud alerts and take other prophylactic measures.
Hackers’ weapon of choice when it comes to piercing personal computer defenses remains malware. Once compromised, these defenses place in hackers’ hands a wealth of information they can use to commit fraud and related kinds of crime. Safeguarding computers and confidential files by exercising commonsense and by installing protective software remains, then, your top data-security responsibility for 2012 and the years that follow.
Corporate Identity Theft
Corporate identity theft targets small businesses as well as large corporations much like regular identity theft does. Businesses may discover that they are the victims of identity theft when they apply for credit, grants or loans, and find out that their credit is bad. Most people think that identity theft only happens to individuals, but corporate identity theft is on the rise.
The most common form of identity theft is the fraudulent use of a company’s credit profile by thieves. With credit profiles, thieves can easily obtain credit for a separate, oftentimes nonexistent, company, or they can also rack up charges in the company’s name.
Similar to credit score, all businesses also have credit histories that are used to establish credit with vendors, and much like individuals’ credit, it is important for companies’ credit to remain in good standing. A company cannot obtain credit, buy new equipment or rent a space without a clear credit history.
How it works
Identity thieves steal a company’s credit profile by impersonating them. Once the identity thieves obtain the credit profile, they establish their own accounts and accumulate unauthorized charges. They may also create accounts in the company’s name. All that is required is the company’s account numbers. Identity thieves obtain this information in much the same way they obtain individuals’ information:
- Dumpster diving
- Thieves will dig through company trash during off hours in order to obtain account numbers, company history, addresses and more.
- Identity thieves will also pretend to be past or current employees and try to obtain confidential information from other company employees and representatives.
- Hackers will use malware, such as viruses and worms, to access confidential documents on company servers.
- Stealing mail and other documents
- Thieves will steal any sort of mail from a company mailbox to piece together information.
How to Safeguard against Corporate Identity Theft
Companies can protect against corporate identity theft by following these commonsense tips:
- They should secure any of their or their clients’ personal information by storing the data on secure networks.
- Company credit history should be monitored regularly. Businesses should inquire with business reporting agencies about their credit records, and make sure there is no unauthorized or incorrect information on the records.
- All incorrect credit records should be corrected immediately. Companies should work with the agencies to have it removed, and companies should also keep regular track of their information.
- Secure the company’s premises with locks. Identity thieves will do anything to obtain a company’s confidential information. Therefore, all companies should secure their stores with durable locks, shatter proof glass, secured windows, and an alarm system.
- All company data should be stored in a secure place. Personal information should be placed in a secured filing cabinet, and all electronic data should be placed on a flash drive rather than on the office computer.
- All information should be shredded prior to being thrown out. This will prevent thieves from obtaining account numbers and tax returns.
- Do not give out sensitive information. When an individual requests sensitive information over the phone or through the mail, their request should be ignored. Many thieves attempt to gain information this way.
- Secure the company mailbox. Companies should secure and monitor their mailboxes to prevent thieves from stealing credit card bills and bank statements.
- All company computers should be secured with anti-virus and anti-spyware software as well as firewalls. This will prevent hackers from accessing servers and obtaining confidential documents.
- All documents pertaining to the company should be well organized and monitored frequently.
Companies may also invest in corporate identity theft protection services for an added layer of protection. AIG currently offers corporate identity protection for small businesses. AIG also guarantees to defend a lawsuit, regardless of whether it is groundless or fraudulent. Their plans provide:
- coverage for legally enforceable damages and liabilities
- coverage for regulatory action expenses as well as for costs for victims whose personal data may have been compromised
- coverage for crisis events
- legal assistance
- identity theft recovery services
Corporate identity theft, once thought of as rare, is increasing rapidly, and can destroy an entire business’s credit easily. It is important for businesses, no matter how large or small, to educate themselves on corporate identity theft, and take the necessary safeguards to ensure that their businesses are protected. Once a thief obtains a company’s sensitive information, they are able to change the registered address of a business, the director of the company, and they can also appoint new directors. It is important to take action against corporate identity thieves by securing all sensitive company information.
Though the definition of identity theft can vary, in most cases it means obtaining personal identity information without the owner’s authorization for purposes of posing as the person in order to commit fraud.
Sometimes, however, baddies boost this information for advertising purposes.
The definition differs to reflect the thief’s intent. If, for instance, a fraudster wishes to spam unwitting recipients, he needs personal information along with an email address.
More or less licit venues for obtaining this information lay at the crook’s fingertips – social networks, most notably.
When sauntering through the front door proves an impossibility, the crook must pass through the back door. Obtaining bank account information requires that he concoct a phishing scam, which can take the form of fake websites or email addresses. The victim navigates to the site or responds to an email sent from this address, surrendering his personal information when prompted.
An incidence of identity theft need not always result in financial damage. The injury may take the form simply as a sense of violation.
Prosecuting the offender depends on the severity of the consequences of an identity theft incident.
Inability to prosecute leads injured parties to sort out liability for damages. If the theft results in stolen bank account funds, the bank at which the account is kept will cover the loss.
Other consequent expense may fall on the victim’s shoulders. This means an effective identity theft or credit monitoring service must present a first line of defense between law-abiding citizens and the crooks seeking to bilk them.
Banking identity theft occurs when a thief gains access to an individual’s banking account by obtaining their personal information, including passwords and account numbers. In fact, banking identity theft is one of consumers’ biggest fears when it comes to online banking and purchasing. Roughly 150 million U.S. consumers avoid making purchases with their debt accounts or banking online. Banks are currently working on strengthening their online security by using multilayered strategies. With certain precautions in place, consumers can safely partake in online activities related to their bank accounts without worrying about the risks of banking identity theft.
How it Works
Identity thieves obtain individuals’ personal banking information by:
- Obtaining information from businesses and other institutions by stealing records, bribing employees, and hacking into computers
- Dumpster diving for personal information
- Obtaining credit scores falsely by pretending to be an employer
- Stealing wallets and purses containing debit cards and identification cards
- Redirecting mail so that individuals do not receive their financial statements
- Stealing personal information from individuals’ homes
- Obtaining information from individuals by posing as a legitimate business or bank
- Phishing by sending out fraudulent emails
How to Protect Against Identity Theft
Individuals can safeguard against banking identity theft by following a few precautions. These include:
- All debit cards should be signed immediately when they are received. This prevents thieves from forging signatures on the back of them.
- All debit receipts and bank statements should be closely monitored and reviewed regularly. This way, individuals will be able to detect any suspicious activity instantly.
- All bank account statements and ATM receipts should not be thrown away in public spaces. They should be shredded before being thrown away in a private trashcan. This prevents thieves from obtaining confidential information from the trash – dumpster diving is one of the main ways that they obtain account numbers and other financial information.
- All debit cards should be closely watched while making any transactions in public, and cards should be prompted removed from ATM machines after swiping. By doing this, thieves will not be able to gain access to passwords by looking over individuals’ shoulders.
- Do not write down debit account passwords or account numbers. Instead, they should be memorized to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands.
- If any debit cards or checks should become lost or stolen, they should be reported immediately to banks and law enforcement.
- All bank accounts should be monitored for any unauthorized transactions on a weekly basis.
- Make sure that all bank account statements are arriving on time. If bank statements do not arrive, then this could be a sign that the mail has been redirected to a new address.
- Social security numbers should be guarded, and they should be taken off any personal checks.
- Use antivirus and anti-spyware software. This will prevent hackers and thieves from accessing personal information or unleashing viruses onto computers.
- Do not open any suspicious emails or links. Thieves can obtain personal information by directing individuals to fraudulent websites or by unleashing viruses.
Identity Theft Protection Services
Individuals also have the option of investing in an identity theft protection service, which will safeguard against banking identity theft along with other forms for them. This saves individuals time and worry. Most of the identity theft protection services, such as IdentityGuard, TrustedID and LifeLock, offer automatic fraud alerts, free credit scores, junk mail deletion, identity recovery assistance, lost wallet/purse assistance, and more.
What to do if Banking Identity Theft occurs
If individuals should find themselves as victims of banking identity theft, they should follow the standard procedures for victims of identity theft including:
- Placing a fraud alert on all credit scores from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion
- Closing any accounts that have been compromised.
- Reporting the theft to local police authorities, and filing an identity theft police report
- Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
Online banking identity theft is a serious and damaging crime. Victims of banking identity theft are unable to recover their finances if they discover it too late, and oftentimes end up losing thousands of dollars. It is important for all individuals to be aware of banking identity theft, and take all the necessary precautions available to protect against it, including looking into identity theft protection services. If they suspect identity theft, it should be reported immediately to all banks and local authorities in order to minimize damages.
How thoroughly you manage to recover from an incident of identity theft depends how quickly you get things moving. Delays can cost you big bucks, but decisive action can save your bacon.
What sort of action should you take? Smart contention with identity theft involve taking those measures instrumental to recovering your identity, and contacting creditors and the proper authorities news of the crime.
Identity theft can fray your nerves and break your heart. Indeed, the physical and emotional toll this crime takes on you far exceed any physical toll. Because you want to avoid experiencing this hardship, you should pay close attention to the information related below.
Sometimes the situation proves not as bad as it seems. Report theft of your credit card before the thief attempts to use it, and you bear no responsibility for any resulting charges.
A slightly different situation, however, attends automated teller machine (ATM) use. Should a thief manage to obtain a cash advance with your credit card, you may find yourself owing $50 if you hadn’t yet reported your loss to the credit card company.
But, if you think about it, $50 doesn’t stand as a terribly high penalty for tardy action. It certainly doesn’t justify enrolling in a credit card protection program, which over the long haul can cost you much more than a one U.S. Grant. You should ignore, then, any telemarketer’s come-ons designed to entice you into one of these schemes. You should instead take the time to learn your credit card company’s existing card theft policies.
Debit cards differ from credit cards in that debit cards lack fixed liability amounts. Rather, the swiftness with which you as a card theft victim act to report your loss determines the potential financial damage you sustain. Should you alert your bank before the thief makes a purchase or withdrawal on your card, you bear no responsibility.
A delay of 48 hours, however, exposes you to a liability of $50 in the event that the thief succeeds in using your card for a withdrawal or purchase. A delay of 60 days increases that potential liability to a whopping $500.00, while any delay beyond 60 days puts you at risk for a complete loss of any and all withdrawn amounts.
Losses consequent to a forge check typically fall to the issuing bank, but you may want to clarify for your own safety that this indeed holds true at your bank. Report your checkbook stolen tardily or improperly and financial responsibility may devolve to you. Avoid neglecting your account; activity gone unnoticed can increase the risk that you may be left holding the bag in terms of any losses. Retailers also bear the responsibility for refusing checks reported as stolen.
The Emotional, Financial and Psychological Impact of Identity Theft
Anger, anxiety, depression – these, among others, represent the typical feelings after an incident of identity theft. Once you have fallen victim you or members of your family may express rage, feel violated, lapse into denial, react with disbelief or refuse to trust strangers.
And for good reason do you experience these things: Identity theft victims can have a heck of time obtaining fresh credit, or, if they should obtain it, it can come at a higher than market interest rate. Scraping prejudicial information from your credit score can also prove difficult. Some 66 percent of victims have reported encountering trouble in this area.
Identity theft can take a real bite out of your standard of living, as well. Figures as low as $2,000 and as high as $15,000 victims have reported losing, largely in the form wages lost while attempting to repair their finances and credit. Identity theft can also steal time from you. Victims have reported spending anywhere from 24 hours to nine months attending to the dreary business of rectifying their situation.
Some Parting Thoughts
No matter whether you fall victim to credit card theft, debit card theft or check forgery, immediate notification of concerned parties remains crucial. Acquainting yourself with various companies and institutions rules governing their response to such crime can help you to reduce risk. Take care also to keep a close eye on you savings, checking and credit card accounts. Finally, you may want to consider purchasing the service of a reputable identity theft protection or credit monitoring provider.
A criminal swipes an infant’s Social Security number and uses it to obtain a credit line. A preteen has his identity boosted and later comes to find she’s on the hook for an auto loan. A senior citizen receives an email informing him that only a few bit of personal information separate him from his lotto winnings, which he didn’t even know he had coming to him. All too common today, these scenarios serve to remind you that identity thieves, equal opportunity destroyers, scruple not to victimize everyone from toddlers to octogenarians.
All generations stand at risk from the misdeeds of such criminals, whose prowess grows more refined and sophisticated with each passing day. Remaining alert means knowing the signs of identity theft when you see them, as well as recognizing how identity thieves adapt their strategies to the age of a particular victim.
Child Identity Theft
Anyone who believes that he doesn’t need to worry about his kids’ having their IDs stolen should think again. Already rampant, child identity theft increases in frequency with each passing year. The year 2011 alone saw reported some 19,000 incidents of this crime. This represents a dramatic rise, especially if you consider that only eight years before a mere 6,000 cases went reported. Children typically don’t open savings or checking accounts, so you wonder how identity theft should even manage to happen to them. The answer perhaps lies with the fact that many parents generally include personal information on ID tags for the backpacks their children carry to school, and this information proves sufficient for the kind of fraud identity thieves wish to commit.
Discovering that someone has stolen your kid’s identity usually comes with the appearance of the following pieces of evidence:
- Pre-approved credit cards;
- Other financial offers.
Parents wishing to shield their kids from identity theft should take pains to seal the child’s information in an envelope, rather than simply toss it in the bottom of the child’s rucksack.
Adult Identity Theft
Some 9 million American adults have their identities pilfered each year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported. The constant high frequency of this crime’s commission owes to the fact that fraudsters will resort to all kinds of means – everything from rooting around in rubbish bins to hacking unsuspecting users’ computers – to obtain people’s personal information.
Grown-ups interested in dodging the nefarious efforts of ID thieves should implement the following protective measures:
- Shredding personal documents;
- Refraining from disclosing driver’s license information
- Using only secure sites when engaged in e-commerce;
- Fetching daily the mail that arrives.
As it is with child identity theft, vigilance is the key to thwarting fraudsters.
Senior Identity Theft
Elder Americans find themselves especially vulnerable to so-called phishing scams, a type of identity theft that involves emails announcing bogus sweepstakes winnings or similar come-ons. Seniors and the adults who care for them should constantly remain on alert for attempts at capturing the elder’s personal information.
Free samples or lottery winnings needing only the recipients personal information to be delivered stands as one of the more time-honored methods of committing senior identity theft. Other scams involve a fraudster’s posing as an elder’s cash-strapped relative. Whatever the ruse, seniors should educate themselves in discerning the signs that someone intends to defraud them.
The fact that for health reasons many seniors carry much personal information on them complicates the matter. They often trundle about the following items:
- A Social Security card;
- Medicare card;
- Check book.
Should any of these items become stolen, misplaced or lost, danger quite conceivably could ensue. Prudent seniors should think twice, then, about the absolute necessity of taking with them such items every time they venture out of doors.
Identity theft plagues members of all generations indiscriminately. Knowledge of the various means fraudsters adapt to defrauding children, adults and seniors, respectively, can mean the difference between financial security and financial devastation.