You will find numerous news articles on the growing problem of identity theft and its harrowing effects on people’s lives. Included in those articles is the story of a victim who spent ten years trying to bring the woman who stole her identity to justice. The thief assumed the victim’s identity and used it to gain employment, a driver’s license, a mortgage and medical care for the birth of her two children. The headlines are very telling of how serious and widespread this problem has become and how it is expanding into many aspects of our financial lives. It is not just about someone getting a credit card in your name, charging it to the max, and leaving you to pay off the debt. There are people who are using stolen IDs to get medical care, student loans, buy cars and houses and file false tax returns. The thief does not have to ever have physical contact with you to use and ruin your good credit, that of your children, or elderly relatives. Most of us have given our personal information to so many institutions and individuals over the years, whether online or on paper, making us ripe targets.
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Many people put excessive personal information on their social media sites. Thieves do not have to hack into institutions, although that has happened too frequently of late – they can gather information from public sources and piece together your identity. One example of identity theft brought to our attention was when someone on the west coast called a Virginia bank with just enough correct information that the bank staff changed the email and reset the password for accounts of a local resident. The bank even mailed out a new order of checks with the west coast address on them. This gave the thief access to the account(s), which he or she drained of funds and opened other lines of credit causing great distress to the owner. Fortunately, the bank made full restitution to their customer and shut down all the other open lines of credit prior to more loss.
Thieves are resourceful, diligent and technology savvy. You must likewise be diligent, routinely review, and guard your banking account and credit reports. Get a free copy your credit reports and review every line to ensure your information is correct. Even small errors on your credit report can be difficult to address with the credit reporting agencies.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to review your credit report errors, and how to have them corrected, please feel free to contact Parks Zeigler, PLLC at 1 (888) 691-9319.