What makes identity theft the epidemic it has become? The fact that half of all victims know the person that committed the theft according to the Better Business Bureau's 2005 Fraud Survey.
Watch out for these red flags
I worked for a company that handled lost and stolen credit card reports. I don't know how many times someone called and said their ex or soon to be ex spouse stole all of their financial information and went on a vengeance spending spree.
Of course it's not limited to former husbands and wives but anger is a powerful emotion. The obvious familiarity, total access to private information combined with the desire to do as much damage as possible makes this the most devastating form of id theft financially and emotionally.
No matter what the relationship, always keep a close eye on your credit and other financial information.
2. The Snoop.
The people that ask you too many questions of a very personal nature. Its easy to not think anything of it.The person may be a relative, neighbor or close friend but ask yourself (and them) exactly why do they need to know your date of birth or social? You may even catch them snooping thru your personal information.
Now it could all be perfectly innocent but with id theft the number one crime for the fifth year in a row, do you really want to take that chance?
"I don't have any drug addicts in my family." Good deal but substance abusers are not the only people who will steal from you. Alcoholics, people addicted to porn, even compulsive shoppers are potential identity thieves.
Gambling and pornography on the internet are billion dollar industries. According to Jim Vaules, an identity theft expert for Lexis Nexis, "You see a lot of internet gambling and pornography sites being charged to stolen cards. [Identity Thieves] might use the card of a family member or friend"
Any kind of obsessive behaviour can throw a person's normally rational judgement out the window because the only thing that counts is satisfying the habit NOW!
Addiction also means more than likely the identity thief can and will justify their actions. Even if you catch them red handed, its very possible they'll say its not their fault, put the blame on you or just shrug their shoulders and say "so what?"
What do you do in instances like this? Filing a police report may not be a bad idea.
Author Liz Pullman Weston of MSN Money says "A little tough love may be the only way to stop a miscreant from becoming a career criminal"
Even if the addict apologizes profusely and vows never to do it again (quite common) the odds are high they will do it again unless they get some counseling. Filing a police report no matter how reluctant you are could be a step in that direction.
There are of course other symptoms. Somebody living above their means or mail that looks like its been tampered with. Identity theft requires constant vigilance with credit monitoring, storing private information in secure places, shredding documents etc.
If identity theft happens to you, the best thing besides recovering your identity will be your peace of mind in realizing it wasn't anyone you know.