What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone makes use of the personal information belonging to another person, such as their name, credit card number, Social Security number, or driver’s license number. In many cases, identity theft can occur simply by possessing a person’s credit card and using it to purchase merchandise.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that virtually every stolen ID is made unfair use of; and it can take up to a year before you find out that your ID is stolen. However, there are steps individuals can take to protect themselves in the future and one of those steps is being aware of what identity theft entails. Below are the
Most common Types of Identity Theft
Stealing Your Driver’s License
- Drivers’ licenses offer personal information, such as name, date of birth, and address.
- Once stolen, the information can be used to apply for credit cards, loans or bank accounts.
- These accounts can be detrimental to the victims’ credit scores and finances as any fees and bills will be sent directly to the victims.
- The target will be obligated to pay any outstanding balances as the accounts will be in their name.
Stealing Your Social Security ID
- Similar to a driver’s license containing personal information, thieves can commit identity theft with the use of a stolen Social Security card.
- A stolen Social Security number will allow thieves to collect benefits, such as medical and dental care, welfare and HUD benefits along with housing vouchers.
- Thieves can also apply for passports in order to escape the country, and, therefore, making them harder to catch and convict.
- This type of theft can be avoided by never carrying a Social Security card or any other card that indicates a persons Social Security number.
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Stealing Your Medical ID
- Thieves use medical information for filing fake workers’ compensation claims, undergoing surgeries, such as cosmetic surgeries in order to alter their appearances and applying for many Social Security benefits, such as disability, medical liability and insurance.
- Victims of this kind of identity theft are often left with large medical bills that negatively impact credit rating and can even affect their retirement benefits.
Character and Criminal ID Thefts
- Identity thieves can even commit crimes, by impersonating their victims.
- As a result, targeted individuals can be fined for traffic violations, arrested for robberies, or other crimes that they did not commit.
How to Combat Identity Theft
- Go through bank statements and credit card bills as soon they are received.
- Check thoroughly for possible unauthorized withdrawals or charges, and, if found, report them right away.
- In addition, avoid unprotected Wi-Fi access points as these can be centers of hacker exploitation.
- If an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection is used, individuals should avoid inputting any personal information or checking bank statements or accounts.
- Download software from trusted sites alone and never click on any links such as pop-up windows or open spam emails. Never leave your computer or mobile devices alone in a public place, but carry it always with you.
This article was written by Nicholas Schuyler, a software engineer, self-described techie, and dog lover.