Beverly Butler: Hi! I am Beverly with Wells Fargo & Company. Today, we are discussing the consequences of identity theft and why you need to be concerned about this problem. According to the 2010 Identity & Fraud Survey Report from Javelin Strategy & Research, one of every 28 Americans was affected in 2009.
This is a very serious problem that hurts millions of people every year. Let's start out by defining exactly what identity theft is and what it involves. Identity theft is the stealing of another person's identity to commit fraud or other crimes. Identities are stolen through high-tech and low-tech methods. While thieves steal personal information via online methods, the majority of identity theft occurs from stealing wallets or purses, intercepting or rerouting mail, rummaging through garbage and other means. You also need to understand fraud, the many ways in which dishonest people may try to take your money. The consequences of identity theft can be very serious. Negative information on a credit report can impact your ability to finance a home, car or education. It can also hamper the renting of an apartment or even result in a loss of job opportunities. If criminals get their hands on your credit, debit or ATM cards or your personal financial information such as account numbers, passwords or Social Security numbers, they can drain your bank accounts or make charges to your credit cards.
A dishonest person might also commit a crime by taking out loans and obtaining credit cards and even a driver's license in your name. Identity theft can seriously damage your credit and financial reputation and it could take years to restore your good credit and name. Fortunately, there are some important steps that you can take to help make sure identity theft does not happen to you.