There’s no limit to what a thief can steal. He can steal your car or break into your home and take any number of valuable electronics, guns, appliances and of course money and collectibles. Some of these items are replaceable and some aren’t. Some may be covered by insurance and repurchased. So many possessions have sentimental value that can’t be measured or recovered.
Perhaps the most valuable possession that’s uniquely yours that a thief can steal is your identity. This is done hundreds of times each day and when that happens, the thief can pose as you and receive the same treatment you would get whenever you might apply for credit or a loan. Someone without your permission poses as you, using your personal information to obtain credit and much more.
It can be a nightmare leaving you feeling violated and helpless. It could be occurring at this very minute without your knowledge. Someone has gone to a lot of trouble becoming you and learning about your financial and personal self to live your life until discovered. This may not occur until you receive a phone call or letter in the mail demanding payment on extravagant purchases that are overdue.
That’s just the beginning. Then, your credit report will reflect negative information about you and your bill payment history. Your valuable credit score could be lowered and you’ll find it difficult or impossible to get credit yourself even though you had nothing to do with this. In most crimes, you’re innocent until proven guilty – but in credit identity theft you have the burden of proof.
Creditors will say you’re late with payments and have run up an extraordinary high balance. They have the facts to prove it. They have your statements you’ve ignored because you were not even aware the charges were being made. You may have to go to court to prove your case. This will entail documenting you were not responsible for the bogus bills. You will have to prove your innocence and this may require expensive legal representation.
Credit identity theft is best prevented by vigilance and being aware of your financial accounts at all times. If you have a joint account communicate with your spouse about what the other is charging. Be aware of any unusual high balances and expenditures. Look for late pays. Are the payments and charges accurate?
Be alert to receiving an unusual amount of credit card offers. Crooks sometime make applications in your name by stealing the offers out of your mailbox. Take your name off these mailing lists. If you’re late getting your financial and banking statements call the institution and find out why. They could be stolen or diverted to another address.
Your creditors cannot be held responsible. They’re just reporting the facts as they know them. Unfortunately, you’re very unlikely to recover any money that has been stolen and the thief usually goes uncaught and unpunished.
Keep all valuable papers out of sight from visitors in your home. Check your credit reports frequently manually or via a credit report monitoring service. If you discover something wrong, don’t hesitate to get it repaired. It could take up to three months to make reparations.
Credit identity theft can be very harmful to your financial and emotional well-being. Be constantly aware of the symptoms and take action immediately when the smallest inaccuracy is noticed. Good credit and your identity are so precious to you and your family. It’s one of the most valuable assets you possess. Guard it.