Better Understanding Identity Theft

Identity theft is the criminal process of gaining another person’s information, personal and/or financial, and using that information to make transactions or purchases posing as that person. 

There are many ways in which one can have their identity stolen. It can be as complex as hacking into databases and stealing information, or as simple as digging through garbage looking for old credit card information. Once this information is obtained, an identity thief can tarnish one’s credit rating and the privacy of their personal information.

Forms of Identity Theft

Child, medical, criminal, and financial identity theft are among the different types of identity theft. 

Child Identity Theft

Someone uses a child’s information to reap the benefits. The person stealing the identity is often someone close to that child in some capacity. It could be an indirect family member, or a family friend that steals a child’s identity. A person will often do this so that they can more easily obtain employment, bank loans, or avoid arrest on outstanding warrants.

Medical Identity Theft

A person identifies themselves as someone else to gain access to free medical care. 

Criminal Identity Theft 

A person represents themselves as someone else during arrest to try and avoid a summons, prevent a warrant from surfacing, and do other things of this nature to avoid conviction.

Synthetic Identity Theft

This kind of theft is a form of fraud in which a criminal integrates both real and stolen information to forge a new identity. This new identity is often used to create fake accounts and make illegal purchases. It can also be used to steal money from credit card companies that extend credit on account of the fake identity. 

Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Identity theft is when someone steals your information and poses as you to make purchases or transactions. 
  2. There are many different kinds of identity theft, however in all situations, the victim is left to deal with their ruined credit score, finances, livelihood, and reputation.
  3. Protection from identity theft is a quickly expanding industry that helps to keep an eye on credit reports, financial activity and use of your social security number.

Advanced Identity Theft 

Using computer technology is becoming increasingly popular among identity thieves. Searching hard drives of stolen or trashed computers, hacking databases, and accessing public records are some common ways that information is stolen. 

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

There are a variety of ways that identity theft can be prevented. Frequently check personal documents to ensure that they are accurate and make sure to deal with any discrepancies that may exist. Many businesses provide products and services that assist with the effects of identity theft. Usually these products and services provide information on how to better protect your personal information. 

Be careful when making purchases online, only check out on secure websites, and change your passwords frequently. Shred any trash that may contain personal information, thieves can even steal information from credit cards that you were pre-approved for. 

Protect your social security card. Only give out that information if you absolutely have to, and never carry your social security card with you. 

What to do if Your Identity is Stolen

The first thing you should do is contact the IRS. You can report the theft and start a recovery plan here.

Written by Matt Moscati.

Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only. Each person should consult their insurance or business advisor with respect to matters referenced.