Credit Advice

High credit scores do not increase your risk of identity theft

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Credit Advice

High credit scores do not increase your risk of identity theft

Dear Experian,

Does having a high credit score put you more at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft?

- KAN

Dear KAN,

Identity thieves don’t check credit reports and credit scores to decide who they want to victimize, so having good credit scores does not put you at greater risk of identity theft.

Criminals have targeted people based on their professions, assuming the victims would have high credit limits because they are likely to have high incomes. But, the most common methods of committing identity theft remain the most simple: rummaging through your trash, stealing your purse or wallet, or breaking into your car. And that happens to people of all income levels.

Most of what is called identity theft, isn’t truly identity theft. Instead, it is account number theft. The thief isn’t really interested in the person’s identity. They just want that number.

The perpetrator simply steals a credit card or gets the number from a billing statement carelessly tossed into the trash and then uses the number to make purchases. Often, the number is discarded quickly to minimize the risk of getting caught.

A true identity thief steals your identifying information and poses as you to commit various types of fraud. They might falsely use your identity to get a job, commit government benefits fraud, establish a fraudulent online auction scam, or apply for payday loans. None of these things requires a credit report or involves a credit score.

A true identity thief might also try to apply for new credit using your name, Social Security number and other identifiers. They may hope your credit scores are good so they can get the new account if the lender doesn’t catch them, but the identity thief doesn’t check your scores first.

Thanks for asking.

- The "Ask Experian" team

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