One of many reasons to take every step possible to combat identity theft is the chance that people can find themselves victimized by criminals for much longer than expected.
For example, a report from California's KHTS radio station tells the story of an identity thief who used his victim's name and other information for 13 years before finally being brought to justice.
According to the report, the victim of the 35-year-old identity thief was with his children when arrested during a traffic stop, because of an outstanding warrant for forgery that had been attached to his name. The victim, a veteran of the Iraq war, was also arrested two other times in connection with crimes committed by the identity thief.
Many identity theft victims will find out that their data has been compromised when they are denied credit. Credit monitoring services alert consumers to significant changes in their credit reports as they happen, helping consumers take swift action when they are targeted for identity theft.
However, other identity thieves don't focus as much on money but instead use stolen data for medical services or to evade criminal prosecution. Whatever motivates these criminals in the long run, it's crucial to try to stay one step ahead of them.