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
This 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.
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.