Four Different Types of Identity Theft and How to Prevent It
We often are not aware of all the potential dangers of identity theft that we face every single day. Therefore, we would like to draw your attention to the most common types of identity theft, and how it would be possible to prevent it.
Please note that identity could be stolen both offline and online. So even if you do not use social media or shop online, you could still become a victim of identity theft if you are not careful enough. If you still have questions after you are done reading this blog post, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment. We are always open for a discussion.
Financial Identity Theft
Most of the identity thefts are about money and financial gain, and financial theft is the most obvious one. There might be several types of financial identity theft. It clearly deals with either your bank account or your credit card.
For one, criminals might steal your personal information to overtake your current account. If you regularly check your account's statements, you will soon notice that something is off, and you will be able to prevent further losses.
Criminals might also use your personally identifiable information to create new bank accounts or to purchase goods using your credit card information. It might be hard to notice that you have experienced a financial identity theft if you know nothing about this new account, but security experts maintain that regular monitoring of your credit statements should help you intercept trespassers sooner. You can also request a free annual report from Experience, TransUnion or Equifax to keep track of your accounts if you live in the US.
Social Security Identity Theft
This type of identity theft can be considered an umbrella term for a number of potential types of criminal activities. This is actually the most common type of identity theft because the social security number (SSN) can be used in a number of ways, and thus it can also be exploited by criminals to forge fake documents, too.
For instance, if your SSN falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to make fake passwords, open credit card accounts, file tax refund claims, and so on. In fact, tax identity theft is a big sub-group of the social security identity thefts on its own.
You have to use your SSN when you file for your tax refunds every single year. The criminals may use various methods to lure your SSN information out of you. The most common way is to bombard an unsuspecting user with phone calls and text messages, saying that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires your personal information in order to confirm your identity.
However, you have to understand that the IRS would NEVER ask for your personal information through any mean of communication. Not to mention that the service would also never threaten to take legal action for something you have done (or haven't). Scare tactics are used by criminals who want your personal information so they could make some easy money.
If you are not sure whether you are at risk of personal identity theft, you can check the list of the top 5 signs that suggest you might be at such a risk. The point is that you have to be really careful about who you share your personal information with. Before giving it away, you always need to ask “why,” and you can also double-check with the organization that supposedly requires your personal information.
Medical Identity Theft
Another type of identity theft we would like to point out is medical identity theft. When this type of theft occurs, the criminals steal your health insurance information and medical identification numbers to get access to various products and services. In fact, this is one of the most common types of identity thefts in the United States. A report showed that around 27 million individuals were affected by medical records breach in 2016.
If someone steals your medical identity, you can experience financial losses that arise from various medical insurance claims. Not to mention that false information is also added to your medical information history, and it can lead to other dangerous issues, too. To avoid this, you need to secure your medical information by not sharing it.
Child Identity Theft
If a constant threat to your own identity wasn't enough, your children are also vulnerable to personal identity theft. Children become victims of this type of identity theft when someone steals their SSN and other personal information. It is hard to grasp, but someone can really use your child's information to take out loans or apply for government benefits.
Your child's SSN, address, and birth date are crucial information that has to be kept safe. Check out our blog post on how to protect your child from identity theft, to find out what you can do to ensure that your child's personal information is kept safe under several locks. Also, you might want to make sure that your child's school also does its best to protect the personally identifiable information of every child enrolled in it.
Needless to say, there are more types of identity theft, and we have covered only the most common ones. But the bottom line is that criminals can exploit your name, address, social security number, driver's license number, credit cards, bank accounts, and other types of sensitive information for financial gain if they manage to put their hands on it.
Therefore, you need to do everything in your power to avoid such instances. Do not give away your personal information to unfamiliar third parties. Make sure you destroy unused application forms that may carry sensitive information. Protect your desktop and mobile devices from potential malware attacks that may target your sensitive information too.
It is also advised to employ identity protection products and services that are offered by a number of service providers. Finally, do not hesitate to address a professional if you feel that you have experienced identity theft. The sooner you address the problem, the smaller the damage will be.