Protecting Your Assets and Reputation from Identify Theft
Identity theft and fraud refers to when someone takes personal information from another person and uses it to make purchases and actions under the other person’s name. Most people are aware of the dangers of identity theft and the risk for significant financial losses. However, Koz Khosravani of Digital Fusion Business Services warns that most people are not aware that identity theft can do other lasting damage.
Every time someone wants to take out a loan, purchases a home, rents an apartment, opens a bank account, starts up utilities, purchases a gun, and more, their credit and personal information is required. The better credit the person has, the easier these processes are. The worse the credit, the harder, and generally more expensive these are.
In one of the earliest and most well-known cases of identity theft in the United States, a criminal generated over $100,000 in credit card debt, purchased homes and motorcycles, and handguns all under the personal information of his victim. The criminal was a convicted felon and anytime he used a handgun, the gun could be traced back, not to him, but to the identity theft victim. He also filed for bankruptcy under the victim’s name. It was then up to the victim to get everything set straight, and to redeem their own good name.
Nowadays government agencies and companies are more prepared for cases of identity theft so victims have greater avenues to clear their name, but significant damage can still be done before a victim figures out there is an issue. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure your identity has not been stolen without your knowledge.
The first step is to carefully look over your monthly bank statements to make sure there are not any discrepancies. Do this! Next, you should make sure to check your credit at least once a year. You can check all 3 major credit reports at https://www.annualcreditreport.com. Shredding all documents that contain identifying information before throwing it away prevents unwanted persons from getting their hands on it. When using the internet, be highly suspicious of surprise prize or vacation offers. If they request personal and credit card information assume that they are trying to scam you. Limit the amount you share your personal information especially over the internet or telephone when you cannot be sure who is on the other line. Legitimate companies should have your secure information already and therefore will not request it by phone or email.
When personal information is lost or stolen, there are different procedures depending on the type of information, but generally, the appropriate company should be alerted, the item should be frozen or cancelled and an entirely new one should be created. For example, in the case of a lost credit card, the bank should be told, the account will be frozen while the card is cancelled, and a new card will be sent.
While physical damages can be recovered, the lasting danger from identity theft comes from damage to a person’s reputation (both online and offline). When the numbers are figured out, credit companies will return to treating victims the same way as before the attack. However, people who were affected by the criminal under the name of the victim cannot usually be so easily identified and set straight.
For business owners who are attacked, potential customers may lose trust with them if they encounter hacked sites, malware, or were treated unkindly by the criminal posing as the victim. Many offended parties will not return to the original site or try speaking to the business owner again so they do not find out that they were dealing with identity theft. Even when people have a chance to explain the identity theft, many people will be less trusting of the victim because they will believe that if the victim was attacked once, they could be attacked again.
In such cases affected businesses should turn to professional assistance in moving past the incident, clearing their good name, and drawing new clients back to their services. Online Reputation Management businesses, such as Digital Fusion Business Services, specialize in helping companies get back on their feet no matter what has hurt their online reputation. Through skillful understanding of Search Engine Optimization and capable of generating positive content to replace possible negative associations, online reputation management companies take businesses out of their ruts and push them back into profitable waters. In the extreme cases, online reputation management companies work with attorneys who specialize on online slander and character defamation to combine the power of the law and technology.
Koz Khosravani, President