ID FraudIdentity theft has become a serious problem. It occurs when a person surreptitiously gains access to another person’s personal data and uses their funds. There are many ways by which this can occur and it is important that people are aware of how to protect themselves against it.

One of the most common ways that one can fall victim to identity theft is by getting their credit or debit card stolen but there are many other ways that this type of incident can occur.  Other avenues that a thief may take include copying a consumer’s credit card during a transaction, hacking corporate databases, luring consumers with fake websites and stealing a person’s laptop that contains their personal information.

Gabrielle Oglesby became the victim of the most common type of identity theft this past March when her debit card was stolen. 

“The bank called me and asked me if I’d let anybody use my card. My response was ‘no’. I thought I’d misplaced it and they asked if anybody had seen or had known my pin number and I said ‘no’ again,” said Oglesby.

While Oglesby’s credit did not suffer drastically she did have to open a new account.

 “They showed me a picture of a young man who they said had used my card.  I felt completely helpless,” said Oglesby regretfully. 

Another victim of identity theft, Felicia Forbes, has had a hard time getting approved for an apartment because her credit score suffered when she became a victim.

“I can’t even get approved for a little Macy’s card. My interest rates are high and apartment hunting is challenging. Every apartment building wants [a] credit score,” said Forbes.  “I definitely can’t by a new car. That’s for sure.”

Alongside the average consumer, rich celebrities have also been the victims of identity theft.  Oprah Winfrey, Michael Bloomberg and Martha Stewart have all had their identities stolen. Usually thieves target people that they believe are gullible or will not miss the money that they intend to spend.

The best way for one to keep from being a target is to stay on top of their financial accounts and check to make sure nothing is being spent irregularly.  Consumers should also avoid writing social security numbers or pin numbers on papers that others can access. When shopping online, it is very important to know the store and verify its credentials. Using these tactics will help prevent identity theft from occurring.