In this technological world, identity theft is one of the fastest growing forms of crime. Because so much of our identities consist of little more than bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and the like, it is surprisingly easy for identity thieves to thrive. The Free Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that approximately 9 million cases of identity theft occur each year among Americans alone. In order to steal your identity, thieves usually need only a few pieces of crucial information, and they have several common, simple, but effective methods for doing so. For example, if you carelessly throw away old bills or bank statements, an identity thief may obtain your personal information by looking through your garbage, a practice known as "dumpster diving.
" Other tactics of identity thieves include acquiring credit card information by swiping it through a simple storage device ("skimming") or posing as legitimate individuals or organizations to fool you into revealing information voluntarily ("phishing"). Once your personal information is in the hands of an identity thief, they have virtually free reign over your finances and reputation. An identity thief will not hesitate to take your hard-earned money and buy whatever they happen to want or need.
Some victims of identity theft have lost their entire life savings in this way. In addition to this, identity thieves may use your information as a cover to commit other types of crime. When they are confronted by police or other officials, they simply substitute your information for their, dumping the responsibility for the crime on your head while they get off scot-free. Needless to say, being accused of a crime you didn't commit is no laughing matter.
So what can you do about identity theft? To begin with, guard your personal information very carefully. Shred sensitive documents before you throw them away. Be suspicious of anyone asking for personal information, or offers that appear too good to be true.
Monitor spending on your credit cards and bank accounts so you can catch suspicious transactions quickly. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to prevent identity theft. If your identity gets stolen, it may take years of effort to restore your credit score, criminal record, and good name. One of the steps you can take to recover from identity theft is known as expungement. In simple terms, expungement allows you to petition a court of law to wipe accusations off your criminal record if they were committed by someone using your stolen identity.
After the accusation is wiped, no one will have access to it and you can legally act as if it had never happened. Without expunging your record, you may have difficulty landing jobs, fitting into a community, or qualifying for loans.
Joe Devine For more information visit http://www.dallasexpungementlawyer.com .