Identity theft is a surging and constantly expanding problem in the United States. Shockingly, criminal complaints grew by 19% in 2021 alone, and the financial losses reached more than $6.1 billion.
While the statistics are staggering, the emotional toll it takes on an individual can be immeasurable. You need to take steps to protect yourself, and you cannot do that without being up-to-date on the latest trends.
You do not want to procrastinate learning about the types of identity theft you may encounter. Save yourself weeks, months, or even years of headaches by putting the tips in this guide to use starting today, and learn how to protect yourself form identity theft.
Types of Identity Theft and How to Avoid Them
Identity theft starts with someone gaining access to your most sensitive personal information. Some examples include credit card details, Social Security numbers, or passwords to your online accounts. Once a scammer has your data, they can use it to commit fraud.
The methods used to obtain and use your identity change constantly. Otherwise, it becomes too easy for people to stop them or for prosecutors to secure a conviction.
Social Security Identity Theft
Gaining access to your Social Security number is the cornerstone of this fraudulent activity. Many criminals cannot complete their schemes without it. As a result, protecting it is paramount to protecting yourself from identity theft.
Protecting yourself begins and ends with limiting exposure. The Social Security Administration offers the following advice for how to achieve this objective:
- Do not say your Social Security number out loud for any reason
- Recognize and avoid phishing scams
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you regularly. Never keep it in your wallet or purse.
- Create an online account with the federal government to monitor illicit activity
Financial Identity Theft
Financial identity theft is the most common form of this crime. Regardless of the methods, it focuses on taking some form of monetary benefit. Scammers may try to get a sizable loan, use credit cards, or transfer money to their accounts.
One of the most effective ways to prevent financial identity theft is to set up two-factor authentication. You will receive notifications when someone tries to log in to your accounts. Additionally, remember to take advantage of credit score alerts that red-flag unusual activity. These can really help you identify types of identity theft and how to avoid them.
Child Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission defines child identity theft as an individual impersonating a young person in order to commit fraud. Some of the most common ways criminals use these private details are listed in this guide. But, one example involves applications for unemployment or housing.
There are several actions necessary to protect your child’s identity. For starters, you can remain vigilant by asking questions when someone wants their Social Security number. You also want to lock critical documents like birth certificates in a secure location, like a filing cabinet. Finally, ensure you reset devices to factory settings before you trade them or throw them away.
Estate Identity Theft
Estate identity theft involves using the details of the deceased to get financial or governmental benefits. According to the AARP, this criminal act is surprisingly prevalent in the United States. They estimate there are 2.5 million attempts to open accounts in a dead person’s name.
The Office of Justice Programs has a few recommendations you will want to prevent estate identity theft. The most effective action you can take is to contact the financial institutions associated with the deceased.
Criminal Identity Theft
Criminal identity theft occurs when someone impersonates you while under arrest. As a result of this action, you could have a criminal record without your knowledge.
Discovering this type of fraud after applying for a job is a considerable shock. As reported by NortonLifeLock, the worst-case scenarios can ruin your professional career, finances, and personal life.
Criminal identity theft is one of the most problematic types of fraud to prevent. You may try stoping it by taking typical precautions like using secure passwords for your online accounts. However, your response after the fact is crucial and can benefit from an identity theft attorney’s help. They can help verify your identity, complete an impersonation report, and prove your innocence.
Medical Identity Theft
The credit bureau Equifax characterizes medical identity theft as using your information to obtain healthcare. Generally, victims will not notice anything is amiss until they receive the bills. The legal wrangling and financial woes that follow can take considerable time to resolve.
Early indications that medical identity theft occurred are often available by reviewing your medical records. Since many healthcare providers offer this service through their app, this task should be simple. If you notice irregularities, contact the billing department to contest the charges. Finally, CNBC recommends you refuse to give any unnecessary details to the clinics you attend.
Tax Identity Theft
The FTC identifies the two primary ways someone could commit tax identity theft. They could attempt to steal your annual refund or give your details to an employer to avoid taxes. If they act quickly enough, you may not realize this fraud happened until you file with the IRS.
TurboTax recommends shredding any physical documents you receive with tax details on them. Moreover, you should ensure you stay on top of retrieving your mail. Scammers will steal paperwork if you leave it in your box for too long.
Biometric Identity Theft
The expanded use of biometric security on mobile devices may be to blame for the growing popularity of this fraud. It is particularly nefarious because while you can change a password, you cannot change your fingerprints. Anyone with this essential detail of who you are may gain access to your most critical information with impunity.
Aura asserts that it is challenging to steal your fingerprints, but certainly not impossible. Significant data breaches of major companies can be the source of the problem. Nonetheless, securing your devices is another imperative. Many security experts now recommend you use an alphanumeric password to keep others out of your cell phone, tablet, or laptop. Another great tip regarding the types of identity theft and how to avoid them.
Unemployment Benefits Identity Theft
The IRS reports a growing trend of organized crime syndicates participating in this fraud. This activity can cross state lines and become more complex to unravel.
CNBC reports unemployment fraud costs Americans $200 billion each year. Accordingly, you must take as many steps as possible to prevent yourself from becoming part of this growing statistic. Each year brings new devious methods to commit this fraud, so staying informed and ahead of the trends is the most effective protection.
Synthetic Identity Theft
Investopedia describes what makes synthetic identity theft unique. This deception entails using real and fake credentials for criminal activities. For instance, someone with a critical portion of your data could make up an address and use it to open accounts, or take out loans.
Since this form of identity theft comes in many forms, prevention means staying observant. A credit monitoring service can be helpful in this endeavor. Alternatively, you can check your credit history and reports more often than once a year.
Legal Assistance With All Types of Identity Theft
Did one of these types of identity theft happen to you recently?
Many victims cannot unravel the web of complications that follow without help. An identity theft lawyer might even find cause to file a lawsuit to pay for the damages.
Understanding how to report identity theft and start the legal process is one thing. But having the confidence that you tied up all the loose ends is another. If learning about the different types of identity theft and how to avoid them has inspired you to take action, Submit a request or call one of our representatives at (866) 345-6784 today!