Identity cloning is a form of identity theft where the thief impersonates someone else in order to conceal their own true identity.
The thief tries to obtain as much information about you as possible, so he/she can completely assume your identity.
The impostors comprise your life by actually living and working as you, they may even get married and start a family as you.
There was a recent documented case in which the criminal, a convicted felon, not only incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim’s name.
He also then proceeded to file bankruptcy in the victim’s name.
Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal information such as social security or a driver’s license number in order to impersonate someone else.
The information can be used to obtain merchandise, credit and services in the name of the victim, or to provide the impostor with false credentials.
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, 17.6 million US residents experienced identity theft in 2014.
What motivates identity clones?
Other than “posers,” which is a label given to people who use somebody else’s photos and information through social networking sites, identity clones consist of people trying to stay off the radar.
Most of them are convicted criminals, fugitives, illegal immigrants or people hiding from creditors.
The impostors often look out for names of deceased or young people.
They also prefer to look for people who work in law enforcement as this field requires their employees to become licensed, allowing a thief to be able to clone more identities.
How do you know you’re a victim?
The easiest way to find out you are a victim of identity cloning is by reviewing your credit report.
The report may list mysterious charges under your name.
You should also check the statements of social security benefits to see whether there are two addresses.
If your bills and financial statements don’t arrive, you should make a point to find out why.
What happens if your identity is cloned?
Identity cloning is much worse than your standard case of identity theft where someone steals your credit card and goes on a shopping spree.
Once you’ve been cloned, it becomes very hard to get your life back. These thieves will take on your identity and can commit serious damage to your reputation.
To retrieve your identity, you will have to spend a tremendous amount of time and money by paying attorneys and private investigators to prove that your identity has been hijacked.
You should take immediate action if you ever suspect of becoming a victim.
Ways to Protect Your Information to Avoid Identity Theft
- Never share your personal information unnecessarily with any one who contacts you.
- Give out your social security numbers only for tax reasons, credit or verified employment.
- Shred all documents that you don’t need anymore. Destroy everything that looks like a social security statement, a credit card or medical insurance before discarding it.
- Password protect your financial accounts.
- Use firewall software to protect computer information.
- Sign up for credit monitoring services such as LifeLock
What to do if You’ve Become a Victim of Identity Theft?
If you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds, financial accounts, as well as your reputation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who may be victims of identity theft.
Below are some of the actions you should take right away:
- Contact all 3 credit bureausPlace a fraud alert (they are free and last 90 days) and get your credit reports. You can receive one free credit report per year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com
- Experian 888-397-3742
- TransUnion 800-680-7289
- Equifax 888-766-0008
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether online, by telephone toll free at 1-877-ID THEFT(877-438-4338). Complete an identity theft affidavit.
- By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
- Physically go to your local police department and bring these items to file a report
- Your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
- State or Government ID with a picture
- Proof of residence (phone bill, lease agreement, etc)
- Any proof of theft that occurred (bills, bank statements, etc)
Once you have completed these steps you will have compiled an identity theft report which will help your cause to get your identity back.