One of the fastest-growing crimes in America is identity theft. To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, it is important to be vigilant and protect your personal information. It claimed 16.7 million victims in 2017 alone, and the number is growing each year.
We hear of major data breeches affecting millions of people on a regular basis. It is more important than ever that we take steps to protect our personal information, because these data breeches have become a major threat to our digital security.
There are millions of individual cases of identity theft. The need for individuals to be vigilant about keeping their personal information secure is highlighted by this.
What is identity theft, what forms do it take, and what can you do to protect yourself?
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is any situation in which your personal information is used without your permission for the benefit of another party or group of individuals. The consequences of identity theft can range from financial losses to damage to your reputation.
Identity theft is a stealth crime. It can be difficult to detect damage that has already been done. You will not be aware of your identity being compromised until after the fact. Taking proactive measures to protect your identity is the best way to do so.
A fraudulent account can appear on your credit report. If not addressed quickly, this could have a negative impact on your credit score. It confirms the theft occurred before the account was opened. The discrepancy in dates could be explained by the thief using stolen information to gain access to a new account. If you don’t check your credit report regularly, you may not know how long the account has been open. It’s easy to review your credit history with free access to your credit report. The theft of your identity happened weeks or months before. It’s important to keep an eye on your credit report to make sure you don’t have any more fraudulent activity.
If such a thing can be said, the more fortunate episodes of identity theft are when a single individual takes your identity and uses it for his or her own purposes. The most dangerous form of identity theft is when malicious hackers steal personal data and use it to commit fraud or other crimes. Those situations can be easily contained. The best course of action is to take the necessary steps to prevent the situation from happening in the first place.
Your information is being sold to multiple parties when it has been stolen. Unauthorized activity is likely to happen if you are the victim of this kind of theft. It might be limited to opening new loans or credit cards. It could encompass other financial services like investments, insurance, and more.
In the first situation, the problem can usually be remedied by closing the fraudulently opened account, then putting a freeze on your credit reports.
But in the second scenario, you may need to get a new Social Security number, which is a complicated process.
Types of Identity Theft
There isn’t a single solution to identity theft. It’s important to take precautions to protect yourself against identity theft. Identity theft can come in many different forms.
The most common include:
- The thief obtains your name, credit card number, expiration date, and security code, then uses the card to make unauthorized purchases.
- ATM Card Skimming: ATM card skimming is when thieves install devices on bank ATMs and gasoline station pumps to get the information on your debit card.
- Medical identity theft is when a thief gets your health insurance card and uses it to get medical care or prescriptions. False claims can be submitted to your insurance provider for services that were never provided.
- Certain websites may install tracking software on your computer. It is important to be aware of the types of websites you visit, as any malicious activity can put your personal information at risk. Unintended third parties may have access to the information if you make a financial transaction on an Unsecured site. It is important to make sure the website you are using is secure.
- There is a type of tracking software that can be installed on your computer. It’s important to be aware of the risks and take precautions to protect yourself. It can be used to spy on your computer. It’s important to protect your computer from keylogging software.
- When you receive an email that looks like it comes from a business you deal with, it’s a phish scheme. Phishing schemes use links and attachments in emails, so be careful if you receive one. You can know it’s a phishing scheme because they’ll ask for sensitive information, like account numbers or your Social Security number. If it’s a financial institution or business you deal with regularly, they already have this information on file and shouldn’t need to ask for it.
- A thief can simply steal from your mailbox and get important information, like a credit card or bank account numbers. Ensuring your mailbox is secure and regularly checking it for suspicious activity is an important way to protect yourself from mail theft.
- These are the big stories in the media, where the identity of millions of people is compromised in a single hit. With no signs of slowing down, data breeches are becoming more and more commonplace. In many cases, the data will be sold to unscrupulous third parties, often on the Dark Web.
The Consequences of Identity Theft
It is easy to see why identity theft is a complex problem to prevent. It is impossible to completely eliminate the threat of identity theft, so it is important for individuals to remain vigilant in protecting their personal information.
The consequences are far-reaching, and can include any of the following, among many others:
- If a thief gets access to your credit card information and starts making charges, applying for credit in your name is a bad idea. But if he or she obtains your personal information, especially your Social Security number, entirely new credit cards can be opened, or new personal loans applied for. You will be stuck with the obligation even though the thief will get the benefit of the credit. While you are left with the responsibility, the thief will gain all of the benefits.
- Stealing Funds From a If a thief gets your account information, he or she can use it to clean out your account. It is important to use security measures to secure your account. This can apply to investment accounts and even retirement accounts, in addition to bank accounts.
- Engage in income tax refund fraud: Income tax fraud is a fast-growing side of the identity theft crisis. The thief obtains your name, address, and Social Security number, then applies for a big tax refund, which is then directed to the thief’s bank account. You will be in a financial crisis if the IRS demands you pay back the money that was fraudulently obtained. The tax return is usually filed early in the year. Penalties can be incurred for late filing if you don’t file your tax return on time. You will not know about it until you get a notice from the IRS. Follow the instructions given in the notice. They have a process in place to deal with this problem. The team is prepared to get the job done.
- It is possible for a thief to obtain medical services in your name by stealing your health insurance card. If you think your health insurance card has been stolen, you should immediately report it to your health insurer and get a replacement card.
- You can sell your information to other thieves. Information stolen from you can be used in fraudulent activities. Any of the problems above could be affected by this risk. The project should be successful if the necessary steps are taken to reduce the risks.
This is just a sample and many other outcomes are possible. Different possibilities can lead to exciting opportunities.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
There are many ways to protect yourself from identity theft. Taking simple preventative steps, such as using strong passwords and regularly monitoring your financial accounts, can greatly reduce the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. Each area of your life and financial dealings needs its own set of strategies. To achieve financial success, a plan that takes into account all of these areas is important.
- It is possible to prevent the installation of malicious software on your computer with the addition of anti-viruses software. It is possible to increase protection against malicious software by keeping your anti-viruses up to date.
- A virtual private network is a service that will allow you to browse the web without giving away the identity of your computer. Thieves will not be able to get access to your computer and browsing history. It is recommended that you use a secure password.
- Information should not be stored in a general folder on your computer. Ensuring that the key used to secure the file is secure itself and cannot be accessed by unauthorized personnel is important. It is possible for anyone with access to your computer to get that information. Ensuring that your computer is password-protected is important.
- You can no longer use old technology, but you should destroy it. It is important to destroy any old technology that you no longer need. It is necessary to destroy or dispose of such technology. This is important if the technology has sensitive data. It is not acceptable to simply sell it or throw it in the trash. The best way to dispose of electronics is to donate them to a charity.
- Monitor your credit regularly. Your credit score is about more than just bragging rights or getting the best interest rates on loans. It shows the appearance of new credit. Individuals and businesses can get funds for investment and growth with this new credit. As soon as this is reported, you should stop it. Don’t allow any further damage to occur. A good credit monitoring service will give you that ability.
- Put a freeze or security alert on your credit report. You can do this by contacting the three major credit bureaus, They are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The major credit bureaus in the United States give important information about an individual’s credit history. A security alert will require you to be contacted for any new activity, while a freeze will prevent any new credit.
- You can store important documents under a lock and key. You should also keep important permanent documents, like contracts, deeds, divorce decree, insurance policies, and loan agreements. It’s never a good idea to leave documents with personal identifying information. Store documents with personal information in a safe place.
- If a document needs to be kept for an extended period of time, it should be shredded. Ensuring the security of your data will be helped by this. An important document should not be thrown in the trash. Before disposing of confidential information, shred any documents that contain it. It has been known to be retrieved from your trash receptacle. Dumpster divers are used to divert waste from the landfill.
- If you get an email from a financial institution or company you do business with, it’s a good idea to access their website through a random web search. Do not reply through the link in the email. To verify the authenticity of the request, contact the sender directly.
- Paying bills by mail can make you a target for identity thieves. When paying bills by mail, be sure to use a secure mailbox or drop box, and sign up for electronic payment options whenever possible. They only need to steal a bill payment, open the envelope, and take the check. They will have complete access to your bank account. The consequences of sharing your banking information with someone you don’t know could be dire.
- You should only make payments on secure websites. A secure website includes the URL. The added layer of security is designed to keep user data out of the hands of malicious actors. It is not a secure site if you send payment. It is important to check the address of the website you are visiting to make sure it is secure and your information is protected.
- Stay alert! When dealing with sensitive information online, on the phone, at an ATM, or anywhere else you can think of, your radar should be up. Double-check that you’re on a legitimate website or speak to an authorized representative. It is possible for thieves to gather information by observing your behavior. This information can be used to exploit weaknesses in your security measures. You should be aware that you are not cooperating. Make sure you don’t give in to any demands that could put you in a compromising position.
What to Do If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
What if you become a victim of identity theft despite your best efforts? Regular monitoring of your credit report and accounts for suspicious activity can help mitigate the impact of identity theft. There is no single solution to the problem. You have to implement a series of strategies as quickly as possible. Don’t delay in getting started because time is of the essence.
It’s important that speed is important. It’s important to have a fast pace because time is of the essence. The less damage the thief is likely to do, the sooner you respond to the first hint of identity theft. If you act quickly, you can help minimize the damage caused by identity theft. You will be able to stop the theft early in the process. The crisis can spin out of control if you wait. It’s important to act before the crisis gets worse.
At the first sign of identity theft, be prepared to do any or all of the following:
- If you detect fraudulent activity on a credit card or bank account, or the opening of an unauthorized new account, contact the institution immediately and have them freeze the account. Follow up with the institution to make sure the necessary steps are taken to protect your account. There are time limits for financial institutions to report fraudulent activity. The sooner a customer reports suspicious activity, the easier it will be for the financial institution to investigate and resolve the issue.
- Don’t let a thief use your identity to get more credit. It’s important to take this step as soon as possible to protect yourself from fraud.
- A fraud alert is similar to a credit freeze. You can place an alert with any one of the three credit bureaus, which will alert the other two, for free. You will not be approved for credit for new accounts in your name if you have been a victim of identity fraud. It will help to protect your credit and any future applications you make for new credit accounts.
- Call your health insurance company to report health insurance fraud. They usually notify you of a pending claim. You can respond quickly if you keep an eye out for notifications related to your claim. They can help you work out a resolution with the healthcare provider if you respond quickly.
- Changing your passwords is the best way to make sure you don’t get re-access to your financial accounts. It’s not like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it’s like it It’s important to make your passwords complicated. To protect your online accounts, it is important to use different passwords for each account and to change them regularly.
Contact the Authorities
Identity theft is a crime, even if you think of it as a personal crisis. If you are a victim, you should report it to the proper authorities. It’s important to remember that speaking up and getting help is the best way to protect yourself, even if you are embarrassed or scared.
- The police won’t be able to stop it, so you should report it to them. Tracking and preventing similar incidents from happening in the future is important for filing a police report. An official report of the incident may be needed during the recovery process. The report can be used to inform future decisions about similar incidents.
- Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. You’ll do this through IdentityTheft.gov, where you’ll create a report, develop a recovery plan, and get valuable information to help you in the process.
- If you get a notice from the IRS that a return has already been filed for you, contact them immediately. If you suspect that you have been a victim of tax refund fraud, you should alert the Federal Trade Commission and your state’s Attorney General. You’ll then need to complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. It will take several months for the IRS to complete their procedure for dealing with tax refund fraud. It is important to report suspected tax refund fraud as soon as possible in order for the IRS to begin their investigation.
Using an Identity Theft Protection Service to Help
If you have been a victim of identity theft in the past, you should sign up for an identity theft protection service. Identity theft protection services can give you peace of mind that your personal and financial information is safe, so you can go about your daily life without worry.
They don’t guarantee absolute protection against identity theft, but they do add extra levels of protection that you can’t do yourself.
The identity theft protection service fee will vary from provider to provider. It is important to compare the features and fees of each provider to ensure you are getting the best value for your money. Different plan levels are offered by nearly every provider. Various amounts of data, talk, and text can be found in these plan levels.
You can get a basic identity theft protection plan at a low fee, a premium plan that protects you at a higher fee, or a third option that offers a balance of services. It’s important that you get the right balance of services and features in your plan.
Typical protections offered by identity theft protection services commonly include the following:
- Live support.
- If your identity is compromised, assistance by restoration specialists. If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you should contact the relevant authorities and seek assistance from a restoration specialist.
- Some services are offered with continuous credit monitoring. It can help you stay on top of your credit score and alert you to any suspicious activity.
- Legal services are often necessary in the process, as well as insurance to cover losses due to identity theft. Identity theft can have a devastating impact on your finances and peace of mind, so it’s important to be prepared with the right kind of insurance coverage.
- Credit and bank information.
- Dark Web monitoring.
- You will be notified when your Social Security number is accessed for any reason. It will give you peace of mind that your Social Security number is being protected.
- There are notifications from the United States Postal Service. The United States Postal Service makes it easy to update your address when you move; simply submit an address change request form to ensure that your mail is delivered to the correct address.
- Your name is on the bank accounts. It is important to be aware that some individuals may attempt to illegally gain access to your bank accounts, so it is essential to keep an eye on your account activity.
- Your name is on a sex offenders registry. Having your name on a sex offender registry can have long-term consequences.
Some identity theft protection services do not offer all of the above services. Before making a decision, it is important to research the specific services offered by the company. You have to consider the cost of the service versus the type of protection you want.
These can range from a few dollars a month to a few hundred dollars a year. Depending on the provider, some subscription services may offer discounts or promotional offers.
Popular Identity Theft Protection Services
Dozens of identity theft protection companies provide service. Monitoring your credit is one of the services provided by these companies.
But some of the most popular include the following:
- ID Watchdog
If you don’t know which service to use, check the web for reviews. You can consult trusted friends and family members who have used a particular service before to get an honest opinion. Don’t rely on just one review per service, read several reviews. It’s important to read reviews from a variety of sources, not just those affiliated with the service.
How Can You Avoid Identity Theft?
There is no single solution to identity theft. The best way to prevent identity theft is to combine technological solutions with personal safety measures. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. It’s important to take preventive measures to protect yourself from identity theft. Before identity theft becomes a problem, the best solutions are implemented.
Be more alert in your business dealings. Identity theft affects a small number of other people. Millions of people are affected by this crime each year. You can be a victim. It is important to protect yourself from being a victim. It is worse because you are almost never aware of the crime. When the repercussions of the theft hit, you know you have been affected.
It sounds paranoid, but it is important to be extra careful. The thief is not someone you will recognize. Although the authorities have been searching, they have yet to find any clues to identify the thief. He or she wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. They have the ability to make a lasting impact on the world despite this. It can be an inside person inside the organizations you are doing business with. It may be an outsider who has malicious intentions and is looking to exploit any potential weaknesses in your security systems. Basic steps can be taken to prevent incidents. You can reduce the chance of an incident by taking these steps. Monitor your credit, add an antivirus program, and even VPN software to your computer, store your information very carefully, and consider signing up for an identity theft protection service.
Every little bit helps, of course, but there are no guarantees.