While it is an obvious crime to steal someone’s identity with the intention of stealing money (as well) or wreaking blatant financial havoc, it is also a crime to deliberately falsify information on credit card applications by altering information. Any information at all: birthdates, Social Security numbers, you name it. That second crime is known as “ID manipulation” and it is a growing trend amongst the dishonest. While most ID manipulators aren’t tampering with things in order to drain someone’s bank account or charge up a big bill in another person’s name, they are instead hoping to evade their old outstanding debts or nagging legal issues.
"Theft is when someone uses your information and that hurts you ID manipulation happens when they've got a bad credit score and if they use their own information they'll be denied. So they make a slight change in hopes of getting approved,” said Stephen Coggeshall of ID Analytics to the Detroit News.
The Detroit News reported that ID Analytics performed a national review of credit accounts and learned that there are 16 million people using multiple birth dates; 8 million people using two or more Social Security numbers and yet another whopping 10 million people manipulating their identities by co-mingling some of their spouse's information into their own identity.
The Federal Trade Commission doesn't make the clear distinction between reports of ID theft and manipulation, categorizing both crimes as broad identity theft. FTC data indicates there were 250,854 identity thefts in the country last year, to the tune of an estimated $50 billion.
When it comes to identity manipulations, “the biggest risk is that someone else's tweaked ID may get tangled up in an innocent consumer's credit report and hurt the credit score, causing higher rates on loans or even outright rejection,” Coggeshall said, according to the Detroit News.
This means that after someone has their identity manipulated, they might not be eligible for the best rates on mortgages or loans, or receive offers for the best credit cards.
In New York, college students have found a way to voice their very real concern about identity theft and other serious issues (pertaining to credit cards) by staging an event called the “Music for Change: Student Concert Rally for Credit Education.” Scheduled to take place on Sunday, Aug. 28, at the West Village hotspot Sullivan Hall, the student-organized event is sponsored by the Student Credit Card Education Initiative, a free credit education curriculum program that provides online interactive coursework through participating college and university websites. The concert will feature musical performers from around the world and starts at 6 p.m.