A Comprehensive Look At Identity Theft

Identity theft can occur in many different forms and may affect one’s life in numerous ways. The most familiar and common form is financial identity theft.

Everyone has an interest in protecting their identity. However, when protecting your personal information, you should not just protect your credit. Whether you realize it or not, you are also protecting your medical records, criminal records, business assets, and your whole identity. For you to know and understand how important it is to protect yourself, it’s vital to understand the extent of this growing crime and the ways this can affect your life.

Identity theft may be divided into 5 main categories, which include criminal identity theft, commercial identity theft, financial identity theft, medical identity theft, insurance identity theft and ID cloning.

Financial Identity Theft

Identity-Theft-And-Credit-CardThis happens when criminals use an individual’s information including their name, address, birth date or SSN to commit financial fraud. Using the right information, thieves may obtain loans and credit cards, write bad checks, open accounts, establish phone service, withdraw money or make purchases like buying a car or a house. In terms of credit theft, thieves could use your existing credit card account wherein they can make changes on your billing address so that any unauthorized charges may go unnoticed for a long time. Using your name, criminals may also open new cards. More often than not, victims of credit card fraud are not aware of unauthorized accounts until they started reviewing their report several months later.

In financial identity theft, the costs can be difficult to overcome and may be long lasting. Even when financial losses are small, affected parties may need to wait for years for recover a good credit score and may have difficulties in getting approval for mortgages and loans.

Criminal Identity Theft

This kind of identity theft happens when thieves use a person’s name to hide or commit from crimes, file tax returns, acquire employment, and many more. Criminal identity can also occur during an arrest where criminals can provide your innocent personal information to the policemen. Oftentimes, criminals get identification with the name of their victims and present this to the law enforcement. If they have a trial and don’t show during the court date, the warrant for arrest will be addressed into the name of the victim. This may also affect their employment opportunities. This may happen when potential employers run a background check and finds criminal activities that victims weren’t even aware of.

ID Cloning

This happens when imposters live their entire lives using another identity like one’s name and SSN or every information about the victim. In several cases, imposters will even tell one’s life story as if it were there’s. Other times, cloned individuals are deceased. To detect this kind of identity theft is the multiple addresses used under your name.

When compared to other types of identity theft, ID clothing can be frightening and damaging. The reason behind it is that if imposters are successful, this may affect you each aspect of your life, which could affect your criminal, medical, and financial records.

Medical Identity Theft

This occurs when a thief uses the victim’s personal information to get medical services or products without his or her consent. Not only it can affect financially, it can also result in erroneous information that can be inputted into the medical history or files of a person. As results of medical identity fraud, victims might find themselves being denied when taking advantage of their health coverage or may experience sudden increase on their premiums. It may also result to inappropriate treatment and misdiagnosis. Among the forms of identity theft, medical identity theft can be the hardest to repair because of the limited resources available and rights of the victims on this crime.

Commercial Identity Theft

This kind of identity theft may occur in various ways. Criminals can open or establish a business using someone’s name or any personal information. They may also use private business details to access accounts, get loans, and make unauthorized transactions. Criminals can also target a business, clients of the business, and employees of the business. If the damage is serious, this could result to anything that might damage one’s reputation to bankruptcy.

Don’t put yourself at risk of becoming an identity theft victim.  Take steps to prevent it before it happens.  This includes changing the way you share information online, having more secure passwords, and monitoring your credit with an identity protection service.

The Top 10 Ways You Can Prevent Identity Theft TODAY!

Keep­ing your iden­tity safe is impor­tant. If some­one else is able to get their hands on your sen­si­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion, not only can they pre­tend to be you for all intents and pur­poses, but they can also take your money, your credit and your entire life  The anonymity of this crime makes many peo­ple feel help­less to pre­vent it.

There is no need to be hope­less though. There are some easy ways that you can keep your iden­tity safe, start­ing today, that can make a world of dif­fer­ence in pro­tect­ing your infor­ma­tion. Here are the Top 10 ID theft pre­ven­tion tips that you can imple­ment today to help to keep your iden­tity safer.

1. Don’t carry extra credit or debit cards

Do you have one pri­mary account that you use for spend­ing? Then keep that one card with you and lock up what­ever other ones you may have in a safe loca­tion at home where thieves won’t think to look. Not only does this make it harder for an iden­tity thief to get their hands on all of your accounts, but it will also improve your spend­ing habits.

2. Cross­cut shred­ders are a must have in your home

We all like to joke about the guy who got his tie caught in the shred­der, but those old shred­ders really don’t do any­thing. Straight line cut paper is easy to remove from your trash that is curb­side and can be eas­ily taped together by an iden­tity thief. Look for a cross­cut shred­der that spits out tiny lit­tle pieces of paper. This will dis­cour­age an iden­tity thief to no end.

3. Recy­cle Your shred­ded information

Tak­ing your per­sonal papers that have been shred­ded and dump­ing them into a huge recy­cling bin full of paper elim­i­nates the curb­side thief. Mixed up with lit­er­ally tons of other paper, your iden­tity sim­ply gets lost in the mix.

4. Never carry your Social Secu­rity card

The only rea­son why you need a Social Secu­rity card with you is to pro­vide a copy of it to a new employer, and even then you could make the copy at home. Other com­pa­nies may request your Social Secu­rity card for ver­i­fi­ca­tion of who you are, but you can request alter­na­tive meth­ods of identification.

5. Use one time credit card num­bers while online shopping

Many credit card com­pa­nies offer an online shop­ping ser­vice where they will assign your account a unique num­ber that is good for one pur­chase only that you have autho­rized. This pre­vents iden­tity thieves from get­ting your actual credit card num­ber if you hap­pen to have spy­ware of key­log­ging soft­ware inad­ver­tently installed on your computer.

6. Don’t surf the inter­net with­out anti-virus, anti-spyware, a fire­wall, and anti-malware soft­ware installed.

The inter­net is a dan­ger­ous place thanks to the actions of a few, so to keep your­self safe while work­ing, surf­ing, and play­ing online, be sure to have all the pro­tec­tive ser­vices prop­erly installed and updated on your com­puter. Iden­tity thieves have even started to cre­ate viruses that affect Apple’s O/S, so always remem­ber that every com­puter you own is a poten­tial target.

7. Keep a list of all your finan­cial account num­bers  locked away.

If you do hap­pen to lose your wal­let or purse, or you sus­pect you have become the vic­tim of iden­tity theft, time is of the essence. By hav­ing this infor­ma­tion eas­ily acces­si­ble, you can sim­ply grab your list and start mak­ing calls instead of fum­bling around on the inter­net and through your files try­ing to find it after the fact.

8. Don’t give out any infor­ma­tion to peo­ple you don’t know.

Why would some­one you not know or a com­pany you’ve never done busi­ness with need your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion? To steal your iden­tity, that’s why! If you don’t know who is ask­ing for your info, don’t give it to them until you’ve ver­i­fied the authen­tic­ity of their request.

9. Beware aware of “phishing.”

Phish­ing is one of the biggest causes of iden­tity theft around today. Iden­tity thieves get you to give them your infor­ma­tion through a bogus e-mail or even phone call demand­ing you ver­ify your infor­ma­tion to save an account you might have with a legit­i­mate busi­ness. You talk to a con­vinc­ing per­son on the phone or you get trans­ferred to a legit­i­mate look­ing web­site where you “ver­ify” the info, but what you are really doing is sim­ply hand­ing your iden­tity away. You haven’t won any­thing. Your account will not be closed. You do not ever have to give some­one a pass­word or your PIN num­ber. Always, always, always ask ques­tions if you are unsure!

10. Some­times You Can Share Too Much Information

With the inven­tion of social net­work­ing on the inter­net through the var­i­ous web­sites, we tend to get very friendly with a lot of dif­fer­ent peo­ple who we may not even know per­son­ally. All it takes for an iden­tity thief who has friended or fol­lowed you to get into your home and take your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion is for you to post that you’re going to be out for a few hours, that you’re headed out on vaca­tion for a cou­ple weeks, or that you’re in charge of the school car­pool for next week.

Chances are you have pic­tures uploaded of your home that even show your file cab­i­nets, safes, or lock­boxes in the back­ground behind a smil­ing face. Be care­ful about who you decide to let fol­low you & friend you, and then be care­ful about what you share with them. With­out intend­ing to do so, you could be set­ting your­self up for an iden­tity theft inci­dent and not even real­ize it.

Iden­tity theft is the fastest grow­ing crime cur­rently in the United States, and it is grow­ing around the world as well. You can pro­tect your­self against iden­tity theft eas­ily by fol­low­ing these Top 10 guide­lines as con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble, while also look­ing into a credit monitoring service that might fit your extended needs. Iden­tity theft is a $40 bil­lion per year prob­lem – don’t let it cost you too.