4 Identity Theft Myths

Identity theft experts say what we don’t know can hurt us. Here are some common misconceptions.
Myth #1: Identity theft always involves credit cards.
Credit card fraud is the No. 1 category of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission, but experts say a stolen identity can be used to get a job, obtain prescription drugs, have medical procedures or even get away with a crime. For example, Neal O’Farrell, executive director of the Identity Theft Council, helped a victim who went to buy cold medicine at a drug store and learned a criminal had been using his identity to do the same — probably to make meth.
Myth #2: You don’t have to worry about ID theft if you have bad credit.
“Identity theft does happen to people who have bad credit or no credit,” says personal security and identity theft expert Robert Siciliano. “All you need to become a victim of identity theft is a Social Security number.” Sometimes a thief doesn’t even need that. O’Farrell helped an elderly couple whose names and address had been plucked from a phone book and printed on fake checks with a fake bank account number.
Myth #3: Using a credit monitoring service will prevent you from becoming an ID theft victim.
“Because of all the hype around these services, a lot of consumers think they’re safe, but nothing can make you completely safe,” says Linda Foley, an identity theft victim and founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “A credit monitoring service won’t show you if someone is using your existing credit card or if they’ve gotten speeding tickets in your name.”
Myth #4: If you become a victim, you need to hire a lawyer.
“Most attorneys do not know how to take care of identity theft unless this is an area they specialize in,” Foley says. “You don’t usually need an attorney unless something goes really bad and you have a credit reporting agency stepping all over your rights.”

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