Identity theft which is also called identity fraud is a crime in which a grifter or swindler gains sensitive information like personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers to impersonate someone else. This information further can be used to obtain credit, purchase something or services in the name of the victim. This information can also be sold to the thieves who can use this information for false purposes. In some rare cases, this information even can be used to bypass criminal arrest warrants by the police.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft Complete Guide
You cannot protect yourself from identity theft until you have a full understanding of identity theft. If you have complete knowledge of identity theft you can stop the thieves from accessing your data, secret information, passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc. But unfortunately, many of the Americans don’t pay attention to it and do not take necessary and adequate steps to guard their identity.
A very low percentage of Young Americans use paid credit, financial and identity monitoring. The term identity theft was first introduced in 1964 and till now the identity theft definition has been statutorily prescribed throughout the UK and USA.
Identity theft generally includes person’s name, date of birth, drivers license number, social security number, bank account number, credit card number/pin, fingerprints, passwords, and electronic signatures, and this information can be used to access a person’s financial resources.
Identity theft further can also be used to facilitate other serious crimes like illegal immigration, terrorism, phishing or espionage. Identity can also be cloned like attacking payment systems, online credit card processing or medical insurance. If someone is attacked by this kind of theft then it becomes very tough to clear their identity as the identity thieves don’t let any clue.
There are several kinds of identity theft some of them are being elaborated and discussed here for the sake of your security so keep reading.
Synthetic Identity Theft
It is a very tough and difficult to track identity theft technique in which a criminal combines real but stolen and fake information to establish a new identity which is further used to open fraudulent accounts and making fraudulent purchases.
One of the most common techniques to combine a real social security number with a name and birthdate other than the ones associated with the number is synthetic identity theft.
This technique is very arduous and burdensome as it does not show on victims credit report directly but may appear as an entirely new file or subfile on one of the victim’s credit reports. The people whose names are confused with synthetic identities are more likely to be targeted by synthetic identity theft.
In 2006 privacy researcher Pam Dixon who is the founder of the World Privacy Forum narrated the term medical identity theft and released his report this year. In her report, she defined the crime and made it public. She defined this term as “ medical identity theft occurs when someone seeks medical care under the identity of another person”. Relevant to it insurance theft is also very common.
If the thief succeeds to gain access to your insurance information or card he/she can seek medical treatment pretending to be the person whose information has been stolen. It is very difficult to track in the medical record and can lead to inappropriate care and treatment.
Child Identity Theft
In this type of identity theft, a child’s identity is targeted to by a friend, a family member or a stranger for personal gain. Children’s social security numbers are valued because they don’t have any information related to them.
Using a child identity thieves can make fraud by using credit, driver’s license number or they can buy a house and it can be undetected for years because children cannot notice it. Child identity theft is most common in the US and is growing enormously as stated in a report by Richard Power. He declared that in 40,0000 children 10.2% were found victims of child identity theft.
Financial Identity Theft
Financial identity theft is the most common type of theft in this field as every thief wants the financial benefit and the easiest way to obtain money is identity theft. This theft includes getting credits, loans, goods, and services, claiming to be someone else.
Tax Identity Theft
Tax identity theft is another most common category. It occurs when someone gains another person’s personal information and uses it to receive a tax refund etc. In this way, the bandit or burglar can also get a job and then their employer can report the income of the real taxpayer, with this the taxpayer gets into trouble by IRS.
What Are The Signs Of Identity Theft
Here are some warning signs of identity theft which show that it is happening or may happen. Try to pay attention to them.
1. No Bills In Your Mail
If you are not receiving your bills in your mail it shows that someone has changed your personal information and your security on risk and this is the time to cross-check what is wrong with your identity.
2. Rejection On Loan
If you apply for a credit or loan and your request or application is rejected while you have a good history of loan management then it shows signs of identity theft, you need to check your details and history of loans and credits.
3. Being Billed For The Purchases You Have Not Done.
If you see invoices of the purchases which you have not to purchase nor ordered and you are being overcharged is another sign of identity theft.
4. Financial Account Has Transactions Appearing Fraudulent.
Your account may have been hacked if you see unauthorized transactions or the transactions which you don’t remember.
5. Your Tax Return Is Rejected
The fraudulent tax return has been filed if yours is rejected by the internal revenue service. This also shows fraud in the name of you.
6. Test Charges Appear On Your Credit Card Statement
Low cast payments like under 5$ show a test on your card stolen by the thief to check whether it has the credit or not. If this small payment goes successful then he/she can make a bigger transaction using your card. ns.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
The following steps can minimize the risk of identity theft so follow them
1. Using Strong Passwords
50% of Americans don’t use a password on their electronic devices. The reason behind it is that they think that it is a hassle in using them. It makes easy for the thieves to access their data. While others use very easy passwords which can be easily decrypted or guessed. So it is best practice to always use a very tough and hard password on all the devices you use especially the ones which have financial login details.
2. Never Use Same Passwords Rather Mix Them.
Using the same passwords for all your devices and logins is a big mistake. Never use the same passwords for every website, device or service as it can cause big trouble if one password is guessed then all your data could be on risk. Always use a mixed password for every device, website or service. If thief accesses any of your passwords then the other things will also be compromised. So never do it.
3. Don’t Open Shady Websites And Links
If you come across websites that look shady but they offer very cheap services and goods don’t be greedy by opening them are filling the forms. Keep away from them at every cost. In the same way, if you receive links from unknown sources don’t open them, they could be fraudulent and fake and your identity can be compromised and at risk. screen.
4. Never Share Your Personal Information With Anyone.
If anyone poses to be a bank worker or government servant and asks for your personal information don’t share it with them until you clearly verify their identity. Because thieves always trick people by pretending to be call center workers, bank workers or government servants and obtain your identity with tricks. It is always guided through mails and messages that don’t answer the person whether he or she says that he is from your bank, office or government office. If you suspect a fake call or message, immediately contact the original service provider and seek help from them.
5.Never Miss Checking Your Credit Reports
Always and regularly check your credit details. If you notice or suspect any activity on your financial account contact your bank immediately and verify that activity. You can get your financial activity every day, month or year and you should check all the activity personally to minimize and stop identity theft and financial loss.
6.Protect Documents With Personal Information
It is a very good thing that always protects your personal information with the possible available means. Even if you have used your information on forms then destroy them if not needed rather setting them on tables or drawers. Because this is very sensitive information and can be used for fraud purposes. Always guard your mailboxes against documents stealing by locking them up. Don’t use paper trails of ATM, credit card or retail receipts in them. As the pieces of them can be joined and used for identity theft.
7.Limit Your Exposure
Don’t carry your credit cards or social security cards in a wallet with you always to minimize your risk of being stolen and used. Don’t carry them with you until you need them. It is a good way to minimize the risks of identity theft and fraud against you.
Reporting Identity Theft
When you notice any suspicious activity or fraudulent things with your financial or personal information take the following steps immediately.
- You can report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or make a call at 1-877-438-4338.
- You can also report your identity theft to your local police station.
- Medical Identity Theft – Contact Medicare’s Fraud Office if you have Medicare.
- Tax Identity Theft – Report tax ID theft to the Internal Revenue Center
Other Organizations For Identity Theft
- Credit Reporting Agencies.
- National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Cent.
- You can also contact your Financial Institutions like bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts.
- Retailers and Other Companies.
- State Consumer Protection Offices or Attorney General.
- Equiax: 1-888-766-0008
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
In the end, I would like to add something that it is up to you to be aware of the kinds of identity theft and try all the possible precautions to avoid and bypass them at any cost because it is the question of your and your family sake.
*Opinion and suggestions are purely the author’s findings not from any bank or security company.