Identity Theft



What is Identity Theft?  Why is it a serious problem?  How can it be prevented?

Identity theft has become a huge problem for consumers.  With just the right amount of information, a theft can take found it and ruin the life and credit of person.  This paper will answer what ID theft is, why it is serious to consumers and how to avoid having your life and credit ruined by a thief.

The first two questions are easy to define and most people already know the definition and answer.  Identity Theft is when a person or persons use your information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.  This is serious because once enough information is gathered by that person it will be used to make purchases or agreements in your name.  This can ruin your credit for a lengthy amount of time and even permanently.  Mistakes on credit reports happen often and the agencies only report information they are given, even if this information is in errors. (Sovern 233, 241)

Preventing the theft of your identity is the key to success.  There are specific steps a person can take at home, at office, at school and in daily life.  Many examples are so simple it seems like common sense.  For those people who have had their identity stolen, they now carefully track their credit records.

Suggestions for in an office or school setting:

  • Remove all materials printed from the copier and fax machine.  Remember the originals.
  • Lock your computer screen, file cabinets and desk drawers when leaving your office/dorm.
  • Never let documents out on your desk.
  • Shred all sensitive documents prior to disposable.
  • Change your passwords often. (Collins 218-219)

Remember, the documents in your home, car, wallet and purse also need protected from theft.  Simple steps in everyday life will help insure the safety of your identity and keep your credit score at a high number.

  • Check your credit report.  The prominent reporting agencies are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  Make certain they are accurate.
  • Review your monthly statements for all bills and loans.  Report any discrepancies immediately.
  • Avoid hand-written checks.
  • Know which accounts have automatic ID protection coverage.    (Karp)

If you discover you have become a victim of identity theft take the following steps to stop the misuse of your information.  The sooner you stop the theft process the easier it will be to regain your identity and repair any damage to your credit report.

  • Report the theft to law enforcement.
  • Notify all credit reporting agencies.
  • Notify companies of any charges you did not make.
  • Free Help is available if you get overwhelmed.  (

The easiest way to keep from becoming a victim of identity theft is to keep all personal information, especially social security numbers private.  The less information that is revealed, the less chance a thief has to take over your identity.  Sharing information with anyone, even family and friends, can lead to credit and financial difficulties for you in the future.



Annotated List of Works Cited

Collins, Judith. “Preventing Identity Theft in your Business.” Appendix H. 2005. Print.  This         scholarly journal was written my Judith Collins.  Collins is an expert in identity theft and     protecting businesses from having employee or client’s identities stolen.  The intended purpose of this information is for any business to make simple guidelines and rules for           employees to follow to insure information is secure.  This journal was published by             Wiley-Blackwell Publishing and is listed in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.  The information is relevant to my research paper and I find it to have little bias.  The          information is also current and applicable to my paper.

Karp, Gregory. “Protect yourself from identity theft for free.” The Morning Call. 1 July 2007. Web. 21 March 2012.  This scholarly journal article was written by a personal finance writer for the Tribune Company newspaper in Allentown, PA.  The intended purpose is to explain how the use of free credit check offers can alert a consumer that their identity may have been stolen.  There does not seem to be much bias but rather straight-forward information that can be used to confirm their credit is in order.  Also included are the steps to take if you discover you are a victim of identity theft and transactions that are most likely to cause someone to become a victim. This article was carried by The Chicago Tribune in the business section on the Internet.  It is timely and relevant to my topic of preventing identity theft. In conclusion, I find this to be a reliable source.

Sovern, Jeff. “Stopping Identity Theft.” The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 38, No. 2.  2004. Web. 28 March 2012.  This scholarly journal article was written by a professor of law at      St. John’s University School of Law in NY.  The intended purpose is to inform         consumers about identity theft and how to avoid becoming a victim to this type of theft.        There is some bias as the author plays on the reader’s fear of financial loss by telling how his own identity had been stolen. The article was adapted from a book and published by         an accredited journal and is copyrighted by the American Council on Consumer Interests.      It is also timely information that is relevant to my topic of identity theft and The Journal          of Consumer Affairs is refereed on Ulrich’s entry. In conclusion, this is a reliable source           of information.

“My Wallet, Purse or PDA was Lost or Stolen. Now What?” Working to Resolve Identity Theft. Identity Theft Resource Center. 9 October 2009. Web. 2 April 2012.  This scholarly journal article was found on non-profit organization website that is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and The Attorney General, William H. Ryan Jr.  The contributing authors are not listed on the website.  The non-profit website, ITRC, offers countless links on identity theft.  These links include but are not limited to: Home page: Working to resolve identity theft, Data Breaches, Victim Resources, Consumer Resources, State & Local Resources and Scams & Consumer Alerts.  Each heading link contains more links of specific topics falling under it.  Also listed are links to inform consumers how to be safe with the use of a Smart Phone.  The Smart Phone information link was the first I read any research touching on protecting one’s identity from theft by cellular phone.  The amount of useful information on this website is endless and relevant to my topic. This is a timely source created for consumers to protect themselves from identity theft.   In conclusion, this non-profit website is a reliable source.


  1. Also, don’t write checks and leave them in your mailbox for mail collection the next day; before you use an ATM, check the card reader area for sticky residue or “extra” speakers or pamphlet holders; if you use your card to fill up at the gas station, hit CLEAR after you are finished pumping – those pumps retain your card info otherwise.

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