News & Resources

Credit reports can help prevent long-term identity theft

Apr 10, 2013 Dave King

Identity theft continues to be one of the most widespread and devastating crimes in the United States and abroad, as criminals have become more proficient in the process of stealing personal information in digital and physical formats. Businesses need to remain steadfast in the fight against cybercrime and maintain strong document retention strategies to reduce the rate of identity theft.

ID verification practices can become antiquated rapidly and must be constantly assessed and refined to patch any vulnerabilities with which criminals can steal sensitive corporate or personal information. Though regulators are working to establish new guidelines and protocols for enterprises to follow, criminals have remained a step ahead. This demands proactive and comprehensive approaches to identity theft defenses on behalf of companies.

The usefulness of credit reports
Experts believe that one of the simplest and most effective methods of deterring identity theft, especially instances that last longer and are more damaging, is regularly checking credit reports. Delta News Web recently reported that the National Foundation for Credit Counseling released a report that indicated nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have not checked their credit reports in the past year.

According to the news provider, identity thieves will most often use stolen personal information to set up fraudulent bank or credit card accounts, and then fill them up, while the victim will have to pay in the future. By checking credit scores regularly, many individuals can substantially reduce their risk of becoming victims of identity theft.

"Fraud victims often don't realize that their identities have been stolen until they are unexpectedly turned down for credit or contacted by collections agencies," Robert Andrew, CEO of the Better Business Bureau's regional office which serves Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, told the source. "Use credit reports to detect unauthorized accounts."

Delta News Web explained that other steps to deter identity theft include the legal and secure destruction of all paperwork that contains sensitive information. This type of documentation includes everything from financial documents to junk mail and receipts.

Businesses that handle consumer information should be especially diligent in their document destruction protocols, as identity thieves have been known to sift through dumpsters of retailers and other companies for documents that contain sensitive information.

FTC releases new video
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a new video to help victims overcome the negative aspects of identity theft. According to the government agency, this is the latest guidance to be offered that pertains to the prevention, identification and repair of damaged financial situations stemming from identity theft.

The FTC explained that this video can be very helpful for businesses, advocacy groups, law enforcement officials and more, in that it takes a step-by-step approach to examining the best practices of identity theft reconciliation. The BBB and the FTC have been especially active in the fight against identity theft in recent years, especially as the crime continues to intensify. Businesses should reference these two resources when establishing document retention and oversight policies.