ID Theft vs Fraud : What’s the Difference?

chained credit cards - credit card data encryption protection concept

Giant Corporation Database Hacked!

Customer Accounts Compromised!

Personal Information at Risk!

With unsettling regularity we learn about massive security breaches of government or corporate databases, with the potential to reveal sensitive personal information. The probability of ID theft or financial damage is almost certain, but how do we protect ourselves? In this digital age, where hackers seem to be one step ahead of cyber security, CAN we protect our confidential data? The answer is yes, but understanding the options is critical to making the right protection decisions.

ID theft generally occurs when a security breach happens. Thieves may use this information to open credit accounts, take out payday loans or check cashing requests, rent apartments, and establish new utility, cable, or wireless services. Or they may simply trade or sell the stolen information.

Fraud, on the other hand, is defined as “a false representation of a matter of fact”, and frequently involves the unknowing participation of the victim. Scammers contact an individual and represent themselves as a financial institution, credit card corporations, or even the IRS. They solicit private information, including social security numbers and passwords, with the intent to raid bank accounts and credit lines. Anyone with your online banking credentials can access your accounts, make payments and transfers, and they don’t necessarily need to compromise your identity in order to do this.

According to cyber security expert Steve Lee, of Steve Lee & Associates, the most effective protection is prevention. “The best advice I can give is, when in doubt, don’t! Be skeptical of any call or email that asks for information that could be used to compromise your identity or your accounts. Most legitimate businesses will never ask for such information in a call or email to you. Don’t click on attachments in emails unless you know for certain who sent them and why.” With regard to your online accounts, Mr. Lee advises using two-factor authentication, and changing your passwords frequently. “Make them complex so they can’t be easily guessed, and don’t write them down where others can find them.”

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Another important element of protecting your identity, says Lee, is to use a credit monitoring service. Achieva members have access to this type of assistance through the new Achieva Checking Plus account. Benefits include total identity monitoring1 of over 1,000 databases to determine if your identity has been compromised, and daily monitoring of your credit reports1 with TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. If unusual activity is detected, alerts are sent directly to you via email or text message1. With Achieva Checking Plus you can register your debit and credit cards and call one toll-free number to cancel and request replacement cards if they are lost or stolen, and provides up to $10,000 reimbursement for expenses incurred with restoring your identity2. This comprehensive program even provides recovery professionals who will manage your case until your identity and credit are restored.

While taking precautions may seem like a hassle, recovering your identity and repairing your credit is far more difficult. Even with professional assistance, it can take up to a year to restore your credit. Do not make the mistake of thinking it won’t happen to you because you aren’t wealthy – cyber thieves show no preference. If there is money in an account, they will take it. Protect yourself by following the expert’s advice and taking advantage of the secure options available to you.


Sources: – Cyber Security Expert – Federal Trade Commission – Bureau of Justice Statistics

Black’s Law Dictionary


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Insurance products are not insured by NCUA or any Federal Government Agency and are not a deposit of or insured by the Credit Union or any Credit Union affiliate.


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