Identity theft becoming a near certainty
Nov 15, 2013 Dave King
Identity theft is becoming much more common, as criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated. In fact, financial experts said that this crime is becoming so common that even the people who investigate cases and help consumers repair credit scores are being victimized, according to The Oklahoman.
"We are all at risk," Christy Cash, director of counseling for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma, told the newspaper. "We really are. Our information is all over the place, everywhere we make a purchase."
Identity thieves are obtaining personal information in a wide array of methods, such as stealing mail, phishing scams and skimming, which saves credit card information after a person's plastic is swiped.
With this crime becoming more frequent, short term lenders and other financial institutions need to step up preventive efforts. For example, strong ID verification procedures need to be put in place to ensure that applications aren't using stolen identities.
One of the biggest fallouts from identity theft is damage done to consumer credit scores. Robert Brennan, a consumer law attorney who represents identity theft victims, told Credit.com that this crime impacts peoples' credit in both known and unknown ways.
When personal information is compromised, criminals can gain access to current credit accounts and charge them up. As a result, a person's credit utilization skyrockets, which can negatively impact a credit score.
"High credit utilization (balance/credit limit) can drop a high FICO score (780 ) by as much as 45 points," said Barry Paperno, community manager for Credit.com.
In the long run this damage can be repaired, but it can create financial difficulties in the short term. For this reason, financial institutions need to do everything possible to prevent identity theft.