Stolen Information Derails Life
Everyone loves a good ending where the thief gets caught and justice is served. The days of simple cops and robbers is over however. What can people like you and I do when crimes cross international borders at the speed of light? The internet has allowed criminals to join the digital revolution. As the saying goes, a rising tide lift all boats – even if those boats are owned by criminals. There are ways to stay afloat in these turbulent times however.
What is identity theft?
According to Transunion, identity theft is a serious crime where your personal information – anything from your name, your driver’s license number, or Social Security Number – has been hijacked by a criminal who intends to commit fraud in your name.
In the past, this personal information was usually dug up out of garbage bins, but now people share everything online willingly. Things that used to be immensely private are now out in the open because social media sites suggested and people mindlessly followed along. This has led to huge repercussions. If you have overshared personal information online in the past during a more naïve era, Wiperts can help you take back your privacy by removing up info that pertains to you.
Now, information bots mine and compile publicly available information. If you shared something on Facebook, Twitter, or some other website, Google probably picked it up and put it somewhere on its search index. Even if it’s on page 1,002 of the search result index, it’s still up there.
With information bots, there is no need for a human to manually search through millions of results – these information bots automatically go through each and every page, picking up your private information. Publicly available information can be sold to whoever will pay the highest price. Whether this is ethical or even legal has been ignored by big social media websites and criminals alike. Big data means big profits. Those profits come from your wallet. Protect yourself using Wiperts and don’t let yourself show up on Google if you don’t want to.
With your Social Security Number, someone can easily obtain false lines of credit and rack up significant debt in your name. For some reason, opening lines of credit is still fairly easy to do. Which is odd, because many mobile apps require you to take a photo of government issued ID before letting you use the app. You would think huge corporations and financial institutions would go above and beyond like a simple mobile app does, but criminals often just need the bare basics to open up new lines of credit under your name.
With a stolen identity, someone might hide behind your name in a medical matter, leaving you with an incorrect medical record and bill. Identity fraud is an ever-growing problem, and it happens every day. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 2.7 million people had their identities stolen in 2014.
Amy shares her story
Amy Krebs told Forbes her story of identity theft. At 2,500-words long, it’s basically a tragedy. It started with a phone call, when a credit company had flagged and disabled a newly opened credit card. However, they still sent the disabled credit card out to the fraudster’s address. By the time Amy had received the call, numerous lines of credit were opened in her name using stolen private information. Years later, having her privacy literally stolen still affects Amy.
Amy went to the three major credit reporting agencies to run multiple credit score checks. Her fraudster had abused her identity to the point where the credit agencies didn’t even believe her anymore – hence the term identity theft – her fraudster literally became Amy in a financial sense. The criminal was using Amy’s credit to live a life of luxury that she did not work for. Luckily for Amy, the criminal was somewhat nearby and in the same country. Unfortunately for some, the fraudster is outside of a country’s jurisdiction. Wiperts goes beyond borders and protects people like you and I internationally – cleaning up personal information from the internet goes beyond one country – the internet is called the World Wide Web for a reason.
Six months was all it took for Amy’s credit, if not life, to be ruined. Her fraudster paid for plenty of things using Amy’s good name. While Amy was at work, she had a hard time contacting the credit reporting agencies because they too worked the same 9 am to 5 pm hours. During this time, her fraudster would be lounging around at home trying to defraud Amy even more.
Earlier, medical billing fraud was mentioned. Amy’s fraudster used her information to access healthcare services. Due to medical privacy laws, Amy had to deal with another layer of bureaucracy, in addition to medical bills that weren’t even hers. When it came to billing information, many companies including hospitals and utilities, simply let Amy’s fraudster use her identity to foot the bill. Unsurprisingly, Amy wasn’t going to pay for goods and services that a criminal received instead of her. The companies still came after Amy however, because she had money and her fraudster did not.
Don’t end up like Amy
In the end, Amy’s fraudster was found living nearby, mailing packages to herself and living a criminal’s dream. Unfortunately, the prosecutor didn’t ask her fraudster where she had obtained the information and it wasn’t part of the plea deal/criminal conviction.
Amy suspects that someone in her community stole her information and then passed it on to her fraudster. The location could have been at a hospital, office, or somewhere local that had her personal information. That could have been the case, but if Amy is like millions of other Americans, then her personal information was probably floating around online long enough to be copied. A service like Wiperts could have really helped Amy reduce, if not altogether prevent this sort of thing from happening. The less private information a criminal has, the harder it is for them to commit fraud.