Last week, we started this series, “Successfully Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft”. You learned that this is one of the most common crimes currently impacting our nation. Here at Somerville National Bank, we feel that it is imperative that we educate our customers and our community on the dangers associated with identity theft and provide information on how one may avoid becoming a victim of this crime. You learned exactly what identity theft is and how your personally information is accessed by thieves. This week, we will continue this series by sharing some basic statistics and providing you with financial-based identity theft crimes that may impact your finances, your personal life, and your professional life.

Basic Statistics
For the purpose and intent of having solid background information on identity theft crimes, we will use the facts and figures associated with the year 2008. Keep in mind that this was several years ago. Since then, these statistics have increased significantly. During that year, the organization known as the “Federal Trade Commission” confirmed that the top fraud complaint was ID theft. While many felt that most of these crimes were being committed online, the opposite holds true; most of the ID theft crimes were committed offline. Additionally, over 40% of all identity thefts were committed by a person that personally knew the victim. Additionally, the following statistics were also confirmed in 2008:

  • The states that have the highest per capita rate of ID theft – from highest to lowest – were Arizona, California, and Florida.
  • The most common form of theft was fraud involving credit cards.
  • The second most common fraud type was that which involved government documentation and/or government-based benefits.
  • The third most common form of ID theft was employment fraud.
  • The most reported type of ID theft that relates to banks in the nation was cases involving electronic fund transfers.

Financial Crimes
By far, the most common types of identity theft crimes are financial crimes. The following outlines examples of financial crimes that may be committed by thieves:

  1. Many may utilize the credit report of another personal illegally in order to make a long-term financial-based commitment. Examples of these commitments include obtaining a mortgage, taking out a large loan, and/or purchasing a vehicle.
  2. It is common for those committing ID theft to create multiple charge accounts, use up the money on those accounts, and then simply not pay on them and/or abandon the accounts.
  3. Many ID thieves may create a massive amount of debt under a person’s name and then file for bankruptcy. Not only does this ruin the person’s reputation and their name, it has the potential to ruin their credit history, too.

As you can see, criminals that engage in identity theft have many different tricks that they may use to obtain what they need or want in an illegal fashion. This is why it is essential to consistently monitor your credit report and review statements each month. Additionally, you should never provide your PIN numbers to debit cards, credit card numbers, or passwords to anyone. Be sure to return next week for Part Three of this series from us here at Somerville National Bank, “Successfully Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft”.