Identity theft seems to be a rampant problem around the globe. In a study by the Javelin research in 2016, findings showed that nearly 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft. And a more recent study claims that there are new identity theft cases in the USA, every two seconds. These numbers has since risen as fraudsters began to employ more elaborate and sophisticated means to access your personal information.
The main question now, in the wake of these never-ending tales of identity theft, is how do I protect myself from falling into the trap set by these ruthless impostors? First, you’d need to know the methods by which your personal and confidential information can be accessed by them.
Identifying these methods by which your personal and private information can be made accessible to them, is crucial in helping you safeguard yourself from being an easy target to identity thieves.
1) Social Security Identity Theft
This type of identity theft is the most common and is one of the most fearsome type of identity fraud in the United States. This is because your social security number is the most widely used and significant piece of government information that is linked to almost all of your most important assets and accounts.
Once they get hold of this information, they would have clear access to your property and monetary funds. It can also be sold to undocumented immigrants in order to forge credit cards and passports.
2) Financial Identity Theft
Financial identity theft occurs when the confidential information linked to your money management accounts become exposed and the information is then used to access your funds for their own personal gains.
With your financial details, these fraudsters are able to make purchases for goods and services under your name. Often, these cases end in maxed out credit card or new banking services and credit card being applied for in the name of the victim.
3) Driver’s License Theft
This type of theft may seem insignificant but in some cases, the theft of a driver’s license has lead to serious consequences. Such an identity theft can also occur in the event your driver’s license is misplaced.
Anyone with access to your driver’s license would be able to use it to shroud themselves behind your identity when they’re caught in compromising situations on the road, such as speeding, reckless driving and DUI. This in turn would get you in trouble with the law for road misdemeanor, usually causing a hefty fine.
4) Criminal Identity Theft
This type of identity theft occurs when someone deliberately tries to gain your personal information in order to commit fraud and other crimes. In most cases, the culprit would use your ID and personal details to deceive law enforcement in order to weasel their way out of arrests and jail-time.
The worst-case scenario of such identity thefts is that you would be charged in court for these crimes that you did not commit. Aside from them, criminal identity theft has also caused countless people to lose their jobs and loved ones.
5) Insurance/Medical Identity Theft
Insurance or medical identity theft is also another common form of identity fraud, not only in America, but around the globe. This usually occurs when a third-party gains access to your insurance details, usually through a medical record proxy, to obtain benefits from your insurance company.
This would result in you having to pay higher premiums for your insurance, as well as cause gargantuan medical bills that burn a hole through your pocket.
6) Tax Identity Theft
This form of identity theft most commonly manifests itself as fraudulent tax return claims and also other tax benefits from the government. All these fraudsters need would be your basic personal particulars and the golden key, your social security number.
In the event that this occurs, you would be facing issues such as delayed tax returns and in extreme cases, even be denied of tax returns and be charged for tax fraud by the authorities.
7) Immigration Identity Theft
Immigration related identity theft cases are also one of the major types of identity fraud around the globe today. Such form of identity theft is usually carried out using your identification details, such as your national ID card, social security number and even your passport.
Anyone with access to these crucial documents and private information would easily be able to impersonate you in order to gain the benefits that you have as a citizen of the country, such as, applying for job positions, getting loans and even buying property.
8) Child Identity Theft
Yes, child identity theft. You might think that kids would not be a victim of such a seemingly “grown-up” issue but they too can be victims of identity theft. All they would need is your child’s personal information, such as name, birthdate, address and social security number.
With this information, they would be able to file for tax returns, take out loans and apply for credit cards and other services, all under your child’s name. What’s worse is that such cases go undetected until the child applies for a loan for school or to buy a car.
9) Synthetic Identity Theft
Synthetic identity theft is a more complex form of identity theft, in that, the perpetrator would use a combination of personal details from different people in order to create a fake identity for themselves. The fraudster can then proceed to apply for loans, credit cards with these fabricated details.
This form of identity theft can be tricky to detect. For example, if the person is using your social security number but uses a different name and address, it would not show up on your credit report.
10) Estate Identity Theft
Estate identity theft is another form of identity fraud, in which, the target is anyone that is deceased. These unscrupulous identity thieves obtain the personal and confidential details of the deceased in order to cheat their way into getting benefits from the government and deceiving banking institutions for loans and access to personal accounts.
Such identity thefts can impact the family members of the deceased, especially those who were slated to receive some form of inheritance due to accounts being drained dry by fraudsters.
Now that we have an idea what identity theft looks like, here are a few ways to keep yourself safe from being a victim of personal data leak and identity fraud :
- Watch out for possible scams that involve providing your personal details to a third party
- Monitor your credit closely
- Arrange a fraud alert for your credit file.
- Make online purchases from sites that are secure and verified
- Be weary of phishing emails
- Run background checks, if the person seems shady
Be one step ahead of these fraudulent undergoing and save yourself from falling into the net of identity theft. Use our background check app and find out the truth about the person you’re about to give out your personal information to.