Advertising Disclosure: we receive commission from Identity Guard.
Identity Guard® is one of the most popular and highest rated identity protection/credit report monitoring service on the market. It ranked #1 on the Kiplinger Financial Magazine’s Top Identity Theft Protection Services list* and has won numerous other awards for it’s protection and customer satisfaction. The company’s protection services are based on their three tier approach of Monitor, Protect and Recover*. Here’s my review of the Identity Guard family credit monitoring plans for 2018
- Monitor: use of technology to monitor personal and financial information in order to provide credit, public record and identity monitoring with prompt security alerts regarding potential threats to your identity which can be delivered via email, text or phone.
- Protect: provides anti-virus software for your computer, and keystroke encryption to allow safe browsing of the internet; their service comes with ID Vault, which helps protect logins, passwords and credit card information on your most visited shopping and member sites.
- Recover: in case your identity is stolen during your membership, Identity Guard will provide personal recovery assistance that puts you in contact with experts and counselors, and offers identity theft insurance** and lost wallet protection.
Plan Levels & Pricing
Identity Guard offers three membership level for their individual (single social security number) plans:
The Essentials membership is $9.99 per month and excludes certain features such as public record monitoring, anti-virus software, and password protection.
The Total Protection membership, at $19.99 per month, provides members with all of the services from the Essentials plan, as well as quarterly credit reports and scores based on data from all three bureaus.
The Platinum membership costs $24.99 per month and provides all of the services of the Total Protection level plus monthly credit reports and scores based on data from all three bureaus. Their free mobile app is a nice added feature for those consumers who are serious about guarding their identity and protecting their credit.
You can save $3.00/month of the Identity Guard.com homepage price when you sign up through StopIdentityFraud.org
When you sign up for your free 30 day trial, your monthly subscription will automatically begin at the end of those 30 days, unless you cancel your membership.
Couples & Family Plans
Identity Guard recently released 2 new plans that help make credit monitoring more affordable for families of all sizes.
Couples Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults in the same household. $26.99/month ($6.99/month savings)
Family Credit Monitoring – Covers 2 adults and up to 15 children in a single household. $27.99/month.
Identity Guard has a proven track record as being one of the most trusted identity protection & monitoring companies. If you want to monitor multiple social security numbers, you won’t go wrong with either of these plans.
Your identity is more than just who you are these days. It is what you apply for, what you purchase, and how many credit lines you have as well. An identity that has been abused through criminal activity will make it difficult for you to be able to live the life that you want to lead. The investment in identity theft protection is a sound and affordable investment that allows you to rest easier at night knowing that someone has got your back. Identity Guard is hands down the most comprehensive identity & credit monitoring service we have reviewed.
With monthly subscription pricing for nearly every budget, a high level of customer service and provided by a company with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, you should put Identity Guard at the very top of your list when shopping for identity protection.
Enroll with Identity Guard and you’ll be able to discover what having a secure identity truly means.
Advertising Disclosure: we receive commission from Identity Guard.
*Ranking based on affiliate ranking
**Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group‚ Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms‚ conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms‚ conditions‚ and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.
We ranked the TransUnion credit monitoring service fourth on our list because it’s provided by one of the 3 major credit reporting bureaus and a trusted company when it comes to credit reports & credit related services. When you sign up for TransUnion’s $1.00 / 7 day trial you get immediate access to your TransUnion credit report plus 3 bureau credit monitoring. These are great benefits to be sure, but their services are very TranUnion specific, as you can imagine. If you’re looking for your Equifax & Experian credit report information, you won’t find it with this service. You will be better served going with a comprehensive monitoring package that includes 3 bureau credit monitoring AND allows you access to credit reports from all 3 bureaus. IdentityGuard & Lifelock would be better choices if this is an option you require.
The TransUnion monthly subscription costs $19.95, which is about the average price for most monitoring plans. However, once again, for that price we think there are better options that will include more detailed monitoring, alerting and credit tools.
With the TransUnion subscription you also receive:
- Lost wallet protection
- Credit file change alerting
- Personalized credit analysis tools
- 1 million dollars id theft insurance
You also have the ability to place free credit freezes on your TransUnion credit reports. This is normally a $10 charge for each lock/unlock you place. However it’s included in the TU credit monitoring monthly subscription.
TransUnion customer support is available via phone M-Th 8am-12am ET and Fri-Sun 8am-8pm ET. It’s extremely easy to get a live representative on the phone, and we found them to be extremely courteous and knowledgeable when we placed a test call.
While we like the security that comes with using a monitoring plan from a trusted company such as TransUnion, we believe the TU service is fairly limited and doesn’t offer as much as the services we ranked above it. With no access to Experian or Equifax credit reports as well as no FICO score availability, we would recommend this service only to those are are concerned solely with their TransUnion specific reports & information.
TransUnion Credit Reporting Faq’s
TransUnion is one of the three credit reporting bureaus along with Equifax and Experian. The three credit reporting agencies keep track of your credit history and provide reports to prospective lenders and mortgage brokers. TransUnion not only reports on your credit, but they have processes in place to help make corrections to your report. On their site, TransUnion asks: “Have you applied for a credit card and been denied because of bad credit?” Credit card companies may be closing the door to you because of inaccurate information! TransUnion helps to fix your credit record, but only if you know what your TUnion credit report says and specifically what needs to be fixed.
TransUnion allows you to run a credit check on yourself quickly and easily. You could even pull your credit report online while on a lunch break or in your pajamas at home. The sooner you see the Experian, Equifax or TransUnion credit reports that lenders and credit card companies see, the sooner you can make the changes needed to improve your credit rating and change in your life.
With a menu of reporting format options ranging from a free credit report to a low-cost $29.95 three in one credit report profile including a free credit score, there is almost no reason that you can’t quickly and conveniently obtain your credit report information and immediately report any payment, debt, name, or address mistakes to TransUnion.
Do you need to purchase a personal TransUnion credit report?
Right now you can run a personal credit check for only $9. Do you want to compare your Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports side-by-side to be sure none of them are reporting damaging or flat out wrong information about your credit history? If so, the three in one credit report is the way to go.
Yes, credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes. TransUnion may not even know it and their mistakes could cost you. It is up to you to make sure that your debt payment history information is reflected accurately on TransUnion’s report. Does your credit report tell lenders that you made two late payments — but you didn’t? Does the report say that you still have an outstanding auto loan debt — but your car is paid off? Correcting wrong info can possibly increase your credit score. Increasing your credit score could mean the difference between a lender saying YES instead of NO. Transunion also offers id protection services that will keep track of your credit reports for fraud and identity theft.
Here is what a TransUnion credit report will show you:
- Names you have used
- Current and prior addresses
- Names of your creditors
- The amount of secured and unsecured debt taken out in your name
- Whether that debt is in the form of a revolving or installment account
- The current balances versus the limits on those accounts
- How prompt or late payments have been
- Your employment history and employer addresses
- Public records of judgments or liens against you
How do you get your TransUnion credit report right now? Just visit their site at www.transunion.com.
Learning how to prevent credit card fraud online can be challenging, especially if you’re not using the right tools for to resolve the problem. What makes it much difficult to stop credit card fraud over the internet is that you’re not in the thief’s physical presence. You have no photo IDs to compare to the face behind credit cards and as such, you can depend on effective methods to prevent and detect. Unluckily, technology isn’t foolproof, particular if you’re playing with the false bank identification number database.
You can start preventing credit card fraud by establishing identification. While a lot of people depend on the 3-digit code on the back of your card as a proof that the person utilizing the card actually has the ownership of it, it does not prevent against stolen or lost cards. While bin database purports to stay on card numbers that are used in questionable ways, a lot of them fail to keep their information updated. Keeping databases may cost money and tons of companies would rather consider to inflate their profit margins and will leave you with many charges, instead of pouring in the important resources to operate quality products. Beware of those that undersell their competition severely.
If you are an online business owner, you should always prioritize to invest in a reliable bin database. This is the only way that you will be able to tell if the customer has put holds on the card due to stolen or lost criteria. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you know regarding such measures, even if it’s the responsibility of the customer to report about their lost or stolen card.
Checking your monthly statement is also essential. It can be an old fashioned method, yet it can make a big impact on assessing and finding fraudulent charges. Checking your bank statement monthly can alert you to even insignificant charges that are made by authorized users of your financial information. Bank apps and online banking make it easy for you to check your statement no matter where you are. This may help you keep tabs on the possible credit card fraud. Numerous fraudsters will begin by testing small charges to check if the card really works. Keep an eye on the charges you do not recognize, regardless of how small they are. If you think it’s a bit strange, call your credit card provider at the soonest date.
Investing on the safety of yourself and your business can help you prevent credit card fraud online. With this, you will also provide protection to your loyal customers. There are several practices you may perform to avoid this kind of fraud. Considering those mentioned tips above may also come in handy. Just ensure that you know how to implement them effectively for you to get results in the end. If you can’t protect yourself from credit card fraud, hiring experts or considering an identity protection service from a dependable company like IdentityGuard may also be a wise idea for you.
Last week we mentioned how Your Credit Rating Might Be Ruined Even When You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong. This week we’ll be addressing The 10 Most Frequent Credit Mistakes you’re making.
What’s a Credit Rating?
Your credit rating is a judgment about your fiscal well being, at a certain time. It suggests the threat you represent for lenders, in contrast to other consumers.
There are various approaches to work out FICO scores. The credit rating agencies Equifax and Trans Union use a scale from 300 to 900. High scores on this particular scale are great. The larger your rating, the lower risk you pose to the lender. Lenders might also provide their very own methods for arriving at credit ratings. Additionally, lenders must choose the lowest score you’ll be able to have and still borrow cash from them. They may also apply your score to create the interest you may pay.
Which are the 10 Most Frequent Credit Rating Errors?
1. Neglecting to review your own credit history for mistakes: Assess your credit report at least yearly. Errors on credit reports are somewhat more frequent than you could have visualized and you should stay along with the problem. Should you find any mistakes, contact the credit reporting agency when possible to fix the scenario.
2. Not using your complete legal name in monetary records: It Is possible that individuals with common names or similar sounding names could have their name imputed to a credit report that’s not theirs, as was the situation for Mr. Dave Johnson of Pembroke, Ontario. Use your complete legal title on credit programs, bank accounts as well as other files that become segment of your own credit history.
3. Paying your bills late and neglecting to make at least the minimal monthly payment:In time your lenders will finally report your account as past due, which can damage your credit If you do not pay at least the minimal amount due on score When there is a rationale why you will not be in a position to cover your invoice promptly, get in touch with your lender prior to your invoice is arrangement if due to work-out an feasible
4. Maxing out on your charge cards: If your charge cards are maxed out, prospective lenders may challenge your ability to refund. You might be billed an increased rate of interest to compensate for what exactly is viewed as a higher hazard in case you are qualified to get a loan.
5. Not alarming lenders if you have proceeded: Your statement may arrive late and as a result your payments could be late, possibly damaging your credit score.
6. Registering for too many new charge cards: Consumers who often open new credit cards are viewed as a greater danger than those who do not.
7. Closure older credit card accounts: Closure this can adversely impact your credit score and older credit card accounts shortens the duration of your credit history.
8. Do Not cosign for someone else’s loan: You could be liable for that man’s debt and harm your credit.
9. Do Not share your charge card or social insurance number with anyone: There are a lot of abound where individuals strive by telephone, e-mail or mail to get your charge card or social insurance scams number This is a fast-track to fiscal catastrophe and id theft.
10. Dismissing the warning signals of credit issues: If you’ve problem making the minimum payments on time and have maxed out all of your credit, you’ve severe debt issues.
Professional assistance is required by serious debt issues. Contact a reputable credit repair company or a debt management service to help get your credit moving upward again.
Also Read: The Best Credit Monitoring Services 2018
It’s a new year and that means there’s all sorts of new scams on the horizon especially considering this is an election year in the US and tax season being right around the corner. With new technology being introduced in 2016, this will also likely provide another new avenue for scammers to try and take advantage of you.
Keep an eye out this year for individuals claiming to be from political organizations who are raising funds for the election. Never donate to any political campaign that is solicited via a phone call. 9 times out of 10 this is a scam waiting to happen. Also, be wary of data breaches in 2016. The healthcare industry is ripe for another major data breach, so be proactive and consider an identity theft protection plan, to stay one step ahead of the game.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Identity theft is a crime which affects millions of people from different parts of the globe. If you don’t want to be a victim of identity theft, you should know the best safety measures to protect yourself from this growing crime.
There are several tips you may take for consideration when avoiding identity theft and some of them are as follows:
Tip #1: Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service
Numerous companies offer credit monitoring services to help anyone protect themselves from identity theft. Such services are available at reasonable rates. Depending on your preferences, you can choose any identity theft service provider that offers top notch solutions.
Tip #2: Keep All Your Personal Documents in a Safe
If you have important documents, it is always a wise idea to keep a personal safe for your home and a safety deposit box anywhere. You may utilize your safe at home for protecting items including social security card, passport, and birth certificate.
Tip #3: Protect Your Wallet or Purse at All Times
If you are buying purses, choose the ones that can be closed shut or zipped. Try not to make use of bags that some can easily reach into or see. Also, keep bags close to your body with tight grip all the time. Don’t leave purses or wallets in the car and if possible, don’t leave these exposed and never keep them in an obvious place.
Tip #4: Photocopy Every Content of Your Wallet
It is also a good idea to make copies of your ID cards, credit cards, and other personal documents that you usually keep in your wallet. In addition to that, keep records of all phone numbers to contact in case you have to order replacement items or close accounts.
Tip #5: Remove Yourself from Any Promotional Lists
If you don’t want to end up with stolen identity, start removing yourself from promotional lists including pre-approved credit card and junk mail lists. This added clutter does not do any good. In fact, you just put yourself at risk of identity theft if the stranger gets their hands on pre-approved cards.
Tip #6: Examine All Your Bank Account Statements
If you want to ensure that your bank accounts are all safe, always examine all your bank account statements regularly. If you bank accounts have unauthorized charges, never hesitate to call your chosen bank immediately.
Tip #7: Never Reveal Personal Information to Unverified Sources
Regardless if it’s over the internet or the phone, don’t reveal personal information to any unverified sources. Never feel pressured to answer questions if you don’t trust the source. Also, feel free to make a request for verifying information before giving any information.
Tip #8: Shred All Sensitive Documents Before Throwing Them Away
Before throwing your personal documents, consider shredding them first. Dumpster diving is said to be a common way of stealing personal information. Buy shredders for your home or office and ensure that you destroy any paperwork that contain personal details before you discard them. This includes credit, statements, mail, and even receipts.
Considering those tips above can help you avoid identity theft. Implementing them on your daily routine will allow you to save your personal information from this growing crime.
Download the PDF of this article here Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
Placing a freeze on your credit report is one of the initial steps you should take if you discover you are the victim of identity theft. This temporary freeze prevents the information in your credit file from being reported to companies, credit grantors etc. The short version is that nobody can run a credit inquiry and see your credit report. This prevents further fraudulent accounts from being opened with your social security number and personal identifiable information.
Only the individual who’s social security number is attached to that credit file can request a temporary credit freeze or a temporary lift of the credit freeze. Keep in mind that you will not be able to apply for new lines of credit, loans or mortgages while the freeze is in place, so you will need to plan ahead if you know that a creditor may need to pull your credit report in the near future.
When submitting for a credit report freeze, you must do so with ALL 3 CREDIT BUREAUS. Equifax, Experian & TransUnion. Additionally, if you wish to temporarily remove the freeze, you must again request the lift with all 3 bureaus. After you freeze your credit files, it will be necessary to monitor your credit reports over the next several weeks & months, to ensure no new fraudulent accounts were reported before you set the security freeze.
Internet fraud and identity thieves are as numerous today as they have ever been and are regularly taking advantage of the most cutting edge technology in order to steal law-abiding citizens’ money. Many of the people who get caught up in these schemes and thefts are senior citizens, and they are often even sought out and specifically targeted by experienced fraudsters. They exploit these seniors’ decline in mental quickness and their trust by befriending them and then later turning around to scam them through the use of false investment opportunities, sweepstakes, or by using numerous other tactics.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by understanding how these criminals operate and the methods they employ in order to get the job done. Luckily, there are many specific things to look out for that can indicate that someone is attempting to commit identity theft or fraud. If you are a friend or family member of a senior citizen, read over the following red flags to look out for in order to help protect them against fraud:
- Large increases in debit or credit card usage.
- Large withdrawals from savings, particularly if it’s an inactive account.
- Overdraft fees or bounced checks.
- New debit or credit cards that come in the mail.
- Forged signatures.
- Check numbers that are out of sync.
- The senior is confused about their account balance.
- Caregivers receiving too much pay.
- Increases in monthly expenditures.
- The senior speaks about a lottery or sweepstakes they’ve won.
- The senior states they’ve provided personal info through email or over the phone.
- While the above are some good tells that may well indicate scams or fraud being committed, it’s also important to understand the nature of the attacks themselves and take a proactive approach to guarding yourself or your loved ones against such attacks. Let’s take a closer look and see what types of scams are most common and what ways are best to guard against them.
Phishing attacks are generally sent out in the form of an urgent message to a ton of different people at the same time. This is where the “fishing” term comes from, as even if the majority of the people who get these messages ignore them, anyone who does fall for the “lure” can net the scammer a huge profit. They’ll often be messages that will tell the receiver that there’s something wrong with their account and will ask for personal information in order to reconcile the issue. They’ll often come through email and can look very convincing. Many times they’ll use spoofed websites of banks, payment companies, or financial institutions. For example, your bank might have the website address “www.mainstreetbank.com” but a phisher might use something that looks like “www.ma1nstreetbank.com.”
Emails aren’t the only methods, as there are also scams that revolve around phone calls or even text messages. In order to avoid phishing attempts, review the following steps:
- Be critical of any email asking for personal financial information, particularly if it says it’s an urgent matter.
- Avoid filling out forms through the email itself. Instead, always try to put your financial information into secure sites or over the phone after calling them directly.
- Don’t follow any links that you receive through text message or email.
- If you’re entering any private financial data, always make sure it’s a secure site.
- Log into each of your online accounts at least once per month.
- Review your credit card and bank statement regularly.
- Keep your internet browser up to date.
Not all identities are stolen over the internet. Some are stolen in person. If you find yourself in a situation that seems almost too good to be true, it probably is. Let’s take a look at some common scams that senior citizens and other people regularly fall for:
The victims of these scams are told to be the middleman for a donation drive. They’ll be asked to deposit large checks into their account, keep a small cut for themselves for the trouble, and then forward the rest of the money into the fraudsters account. The money they’re “depositing” into their account doesn’t actually exist or sometimes even belongs to other victims.
Working from Home
A victim sees an advertisement promising them big bucks for working an easy job from the comfort of their own home. They’ll have checks deposited into their bank account and are told to wire 90% of it back to the fraudster and keep the remaining portion for themselves. Like with the above example, this money often doesn’t even exist, so the actual money that gets sent belongs to the victim.
The victim gets involved with an online boyfriend or girlfriend who tells them to deposit a check or money order into their account and then wire them the money. These checks are bogus so the boyfriend/girlfriend ends up getting money from the victim’s own pocket.
While the above are common examples, there are endless scenarios that a fraudster can use to steal a senior citizen’s money. It’s best to proactively protect yourself from them rather than hoping to do damage control after your identity is already stolen. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to go about doing this:
- Regularly review your bank accounts and financial statements.
- Sign up for security alerts through your mobile or on your email account.
- Monitor your credit score to check it for unauthorized activity.
- Keep private information private – use direct deposits and keep all financial records secure under lock and key.
- If you are a victim of fraud, contact your financial services company immediately and notify them of the problem.
Senior identity theft is a very real thing that does affect countless individuals every single year. By taking a proactive approach in protecting yourself or someone you know, you will be able to minimize your risk. The most important thing is to be skeptical of strangers promising you money for little or no effort or of messages urging you to send them your personal information.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or the FACT Act, was passed in 2003 as an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It’s passing gave consumers some powerful weapons in regards to being proactive against identity theft, yet many people don’t realize what benefits the FACT Act provides. From being able to get free credit reports from the credit bureaus every 12 months to being able to place fraud alerts on your credit reports to eliminating credit card numbers from receipts, consumers are able to get a lot of protections now that they weren’t able to have before.
Here’s what the FACT Act does for you:
1. You Get 1 Free Credit Report from Each Credit Reporting Agency Every 12 months
Through the FACT Act, the three major credit reporting agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, set up the website AnnualCreditReport.com. This is an easy place for you to be able to request in writing a credit report from any or all of the credit reporting agencies. You are allowed one free credit report every 12 months from each agency, so many consumers choose to make a request for one every four months from just one of the agencies so that they have a more consistent review of their credit. Besides the website, you can also request your free credit report in writing by sending a letter directly to the credit reporting agency of your choice through standard mail.
2. You Are Able to Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit
If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can request a fraud alert to be placed onto your credit report through any of the credit reporting agencies. Once you have placed a fraud alert at one agency, this alert will then update to the other two. An initial fraud alert can last for up to 90 days, and when identity theft has been confirmed, this fraud alert can last up to 7 years. In addition, anyone who is actively serving in the military can have a fraud alert placed on their credit report for up to 12 months. You can learn more about fraud alerts through this informative blog post as well.
3. No More Credit Card Numbers on Your Receipts
If you keep your tax records for seven years or more, then chances are you can go digging into that box or file and find some point of sale receipts there. Chances are they contain your entire credit card or debit card number on that receipt. Fast forward to today where thanks to the FAST Act, all card numbers must be truncated to only display four or five of those numbers. Often it is displayed as XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1234 these days. This was done because a fast majority of people simply crumple up their receipts and then throw them away in the nearest trash can… which was a very easy way for identity thieves to get their hands on a valid number. You’ll also notice that there aren’t any expiration dates on receipts any more as well, and this is for the exact same reason for truncating the numbers.
4. Help to Identity Possible Identity Theft
Sometimes referred to as the “Red Flags” rules, the FACT Act required the formation of regulations by the major Federal finance agencies involved in consumer finance to help people discover identity thieves as quickly as possible. This boiled down to three basic points:
It requires financial institutions or creditors to develop and implement an Identity Theft Prevention Program in connection with any account they hold and it must include reasonable policies and procedures for preventing, detecting, and resolving identity theft event;
It requires users of consumer reports to respond to Notices of Address Discrepancies that they receive when there is more than one permanent address for a consumer; and
It places special requirements on issuers of debit or credit cards to assess the validity of a change of address if they receive notification of a change of address.
These Red Flag regulations are intended as a measure to help keep you safe from circumstances that could be out of your direct control. Identity thieves have always held an arsenal of weapons that they can use to gain access to a victim’s identity – these implemented regulations are designed to help give consumers weapons to defeat identity thieves before they can strike.5. Blocking Information that Occurs Because of Identity Theft
An identity thief can create a lot of damage for their victims. It could just be from spending money on existing accounts, or it could be the opening of new accounts, maxing out those credit lines, and then not paying them. It could be that a false name was given when an identity thief is arrested, thereby putting an arrest on a victim’s record. It could even be pretending to be the victim in order to receive medical treatment and coverage, and then not paying for it.
Thanks to the FACT Act, the false information that is generated thanks to the identity thief’s activities is to be blocked from your permanent record once contested. This means that potential lenders will not be able to see any accounts in collection thanks to the activities of an identity thief, false judgements, or anything else that could have a negative impact on your application.
In addition to these five key points, it was also mandated that consumers have access to specific resources to gain the help they need should they discover that they have become the victim of identity theft. Despite all of these efforts, however, identity theft is still the fastest growing crime right now in the United States. Why? Because people simply haven’t taken the time to empower themselves with the knowledge they need to combat identity theft effectively. For some it’s because they feel invulnerable. For others it is because they just don’t care. Then there are those who just don’t realize that identity theft is a problem.
Until we all fight back against the identity thieves, there will always be new victims because identity thieves profit to the tune of $40,000,000,000 every single year. Be sure to request your free credit reports every 12 months, sign up for an effective identity theft protection plan, and take the fight to the identity thieves today.
One of the real problems with many of the types of crimes addressed on this website is that the punishment does not seem to be harsh enough from authorities.
By this, we mean that the punishment for credit card fraud and other forms of identity theft are almost certainly not severe enough to put others off trying their luck. One aspect that falls very clearly in favour of the criminal (if caught and if the case goes to court) is that to many it is a ‘victimless’ crime. Clearly, there are victims. But because most victims will recover the majority of their losses from banking and financial institutions, there is a perception that nobody was hurt.
As discussed elsewhere on this site, clearing up the damage to a reputation and financial position can take up to 2 years. That does not seem ‘victimless’ to us.
For the police, if the ‘value’ of the crime is small, there is often little incentive to chase the trail and try and make a conviction. The media will often round on local police officers that chase small and often petty crimes hard, when there are murderers out on the streets. Because of this, there is a real sense that small cases waste police time. If that is the situation, then clearly adequate punishment for credit card fraud is still a long way away.
Are You Worried About Your Personal Data?
In researching this subject for this site, your author has read that many areas of the United States have semi-official numbers in place to determine whether they investigate a financial crime or not. It seems that offences much below US$100,000 will be unlikely to receive much – if any – attention. There is no doubt that a sound economic reasoning and logic underpins this number. The value of police time, court time and the cost of sentencing and imprisonment make small crimes unworthy of attention.
However, should you have been on the receiving end of this, and now be ‘short’ (lets say) US$80,000, it would seem very serious. It may be that much of this money would eventually be returned by the credit card company, but it would still be a very stressful situation.
At this point, it might be worth pointing out that if the cost of a crime is reimbursed to a victim, then that cost will be passed on to all customers in some way. This might be in the form of higher charges, less ‘free’ benefits and gifts or higher insurance premiums, but somehow we will all pay. This seems just as unfair as the cost being met by one victim, but this is the way of the world.
In contrast to all these costs, the criminal – if caught and prosecuted – is often looking at light levels of punishment. Why? No actual physical harm was likely to have been caused to the victim. These crimes rarely involve an assault or attack. There will probably not be any damage to property either. In addition, it might be that a substantial amount of the crime cannot be proven to have been taken by this criminal. That means that while they might have obtained tens of thousands, they may have only been caught in the act with a few hundred or thousand. The courts can only convict and punish for what they see and know to be true.