Identity theft is a very serious problem in the world today. Some people may think it’s a “victimless crime”, since once identity theft is discovered, it can usually be rectified–you should be held unresponsible for charges you didn’t make, and the companies who provided goods or services to the person who stole your info can usually claim the losses against their taxes. After all, it’s not like someone knocked you down and stole your purse, or burgled your house, right?
Oh, heck no. There are plenty of victims. Most primary, of course, is the person whose information is stolen. Depending on how ambitious your personal thief was, your complications may range from simply having to clear up charges on one credit card (as I did, which will be covered in an upcoming post) to spending literally years sorting out tangled red tape with stores, companies, and even your local government. Some people have found out the scammer has actually used their information to buy a house, or even managed to sell a house that the victim owns!
And this is to say nothing of how difficult it can be to get your credit record straightened out. It’s one thing to catch charges that you didn’t make on a credit card statement you receive, but quite another when an identity thief gets a brand new card in your name, and the statements don’t even come to you. Those statements go unpaid, and now you have flags all over your credit report from accounts you didn’t know existed! It can take months to even discover the problem, and years to sort through the mess.
Lastly, we are all victims of the crime of identity theft if the stores, banks and companies raise prices or fees to deal with their losses. Losses ARE tax deductible, but they are still losses, and companies that show fewer profits lose their market share. If banks have to invest more money growing their fraud departments, they may boost fees or reduce benefits. So if you or anyone you know has considered running this kind of scam because you don’t think it hurts anyone, think again. Stealing what’s not yours is wrong; you know it, and doing wrong will come back around and get you. Scammers go to jail every single day!