Personal Prevention of Identity Theft
Today in the United States there is a crime that every citizen faces having committed against them and that is the crime of identity theft. Identity theft is the theft of one's personal identifying information such as one's name, address, date of birth, credit card numbers, bank information, and most of all social security number (National Insurance Crime Bureau, 2000). With the modernization of our world it has became easier for would be identity thieves to commit their crime. There are many basic steps that one can do to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Identity theft is a growing business in the United States. It is now the most common form of consumer fraud. Last year more than 750,000 Americans were victims of identity theft, including such well known celebrities as Oprah Winfry and Tiger Woods (Martin, 2002). According to the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, the majority of identity thefts still involve non-computer events that occur by criminals intercepting mail or taking information from carelessly discarded record that contain personal information. Once an identity thief has a victim's social security number, bank account numbers, or other types of personal information they are in business and can open up credit cards, take out bank loans, forge checks, or commit any number of other fraudulent scams that involve the use of a victim's personal information that allows the thief to gain some form of monetary reward (Martin, 2002).
One sees here that once a criminal obtains a victim's personal information that they have what they need to commit their crime and to reap the financial rewards of identity theft.
To safeguard one's self from identity theft one must be very diligent in protecting their personal information. The most vital piece of personal information that one needs to protect is their social security number. Social security numbers exist for the purpose of tracking earnings and for paying benefits and was originally signed into existence by President Franklin Roosevelt. This was enacted so that federal agencies could use social security numbers for their record keeping systems and were not meant to be used by businesses as identifiers, but have taken on this role of identifiers because every person has their own unique number (Bruce, 2003). Because legally no one needs your social security number except government agencies, and a few businesses such as banks, one should be very careful in allowing anyone else to have it.
The fact that each person has their own unique and different social security number is what makes is such a valuable piece of personal information. One must remember that the more people who see your social security number the more susceptible one becomes to identity theft (Bruce, 2003). Thus, the first and most important way to safeguard one's identity from theft is to protect one's social...