With the convenience of paying by credit card via the Internet, identity theft has become a major concern in the digital world.[You already know this, because we cover that point a LOT on this site.]
There are now more methods used now than ever for storing, collecting, sharing, and sometimes stealing your personal details. You share your personal information to be evaluated for any loan, credit card, life insurance policy, mortgage or apartment. Your personal information is often shared just to apply for a job.
Keeping an Eye on Your Personal Details
It’s more important than ever to be vigilant about the process of your information being shared, and be discriminating in terms of who or what organizations you share your personal information with.
If you aren’t careful, and sadly, sometimes even if you are careful, you could become a victim of identity theft. In addition to being more vigilant, more and more people are turning to identity theft protection services like LifeLock to help provide added piece of mind. Many services will monitor your credit around the clock, offering identity theft protection 24/7.
Fraud at the IRS
A recent story reported that there was an identity thief within the hallowed ranks of the IRS. Domeen Flowers, a 48 year old (former) employee of the IRS, allegedly stole a number of tax payer’s identities directly from IRS databases and then used them to fraudulently apply for lines of credit for herself.
Flowers was hired as a mail clerk in 2007 in a Philadelphia IRS branch, but allegedly stole the taxpayer identities after she transferred to an IRS branch in Maitland, FL. She also allegedly fraudulently acquired the identity of her landlord in Philadelphia by faxing the landlord a letter on IRS letterhead, demanding personal details. She then used the information gathered to apply for credit cards for herself. Flowers will face up to 46 years in prison and up to $1.25 million in fines if convicted.
Warning Signs That You May be a Victim of Identity Theft
If IRS agents can’t even be trusted, how can you protect yourself? Start by watching for red flags. Here are five of the warning signs you might be a victim of identity theft:
– Unknown charges start to appear on your debit or credit card statements
– You suddenly receive credit card declines when you know you have plenty of available balance
– Merchandise you didn’t order is delivered to your address
– You stop receiving monthly billing statements in the mail
– You start receiving calls from debt collectors when you have no known debts
Besides watching for these signs of identity theft, you’ll want to pay attention to all the signs of fraud. This will provide tremendous piece of mind as you navigate through the pitfalls of this digital world we live in.
With the growth of the Internet and the acceleration of technology, there is definitely much to enjoy and appreciate about this fast-paced world we live in.
However, a measure of caution goes a long way in balancing the hazards of technology with all of its gifts.