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Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

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Identity theft is a crime whereby, somebody obtains or uses the financial or personal information of another person to impersonate that person. In doing so, the thief stealing your identity may use it to commit fraud in many different ways. These could include damages to your credit rating, finances, personal reputation, and other areas. 

Here, we will take a closer look at exactly what types of identity theft can occur, how you can spot these types of theft, and most importantly, what you can do to stay fully protected through services like Identity Guard that offer a range of protective services at great prices. 

Ways Your Information Can be Stolen

When it comes to identity theft, the first event that happens is the initial exposure of your data to a thief. There are several common ways that our personal information can be exposed. Some of these are detailed below. 

Data Breach

One of the most common ways your information can be compromised is through a data breach. This is where hackers typically steal your information from an online site or database. This is then typically resold or recycled to other criminals. Anyone using an online service has likely been impacted at some time, such as with the Equifax data breach. 

Malware

This is a very common way that criminals can gain access to your information. Malware is typically hidden inside spam email attachments and other links that you are enticed to click. Doing so could infect your system and install software like a keylogger which will monitor your keystrokes and expose them back to a thief.

Lost Wallet

The age-old way that your identity can be stolen. When you lose your wallet, often contained inside are some cards and sensitive information like your Social Security Number. This can present an opportunist thief with all they need to steal your identity.

Phishing / Phone Scams

An increasingly common method of identity theft, phishing can happen where you get an official looking email or call from your bank or other trusted person. You are then enticed to give out your private personal information such as card numbers or passwords thinking they are officially required by a trusted person when actually, this is just a thief posing as such.

Identity Theft Types and How to Spot Them

Now that we have seen some of the most common methods of getting your information, here are more details on how a criminal may use this information, and how you can spot what is going on. 

Financial Identity Theft

This is among the most common types of theft. A criminal steals and uses your personal information to apply for credit in some form typically using your social security number. Unexpected changed in your credit score or collection notices are common signs of this type of identity theft.

Tax Identity Theft

This type of theft involves using your Social Security Number to file an illegitimate tax return and claim a tax refund in your name. You may spot this if you are filing and note that a return has already been filed, or receive notification of activity you don’t recognize from the IRS. 

Synthetic Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft happens when criminals construct a new identity using a combination of real and fake information. They then commit fraud through this new identity by taking out loans, credit cards, and more before disappearing. You may note this by finding that your children’s Social Security Number is already in use. 

Child Identity Theft 

As above, this happens where criminals will steal the personal information of a child and use that to apply for lines of credit. This could go on for years and only be discovered when applying for school loans or credit much later. If you see credit card offers or other suspicious activity in your child’s name, you should report it. 

Medical Identity Theft

This is the theft of your information to obtain medical services for another person. It can result in mixed medical history and confusion among your doctors. For that reason, you should check your claims carefully and report any that you do not recognize.

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft is the action of providing your information to law enforcement falsely when the criminal has been detained. This can result in you being stopped and detained by the police in future, or having difficulties obtaining credit or clearing background checks. 

Identity Theft Protection

Though the above types of identity theft always remain a problem and are becoming more prevalent, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself almost entirely. 

This includes regularly monitoring your personal information, statements, and records held with both public and private agencies. Regular credit reports, medical history, paying close attention to your banking records, and tracking your and your family’s information and any changes. 

You should also use strong passwords, ensure not to disclose your social security number or sensitive information including passwords and pin numbers to anyone. This is especially true via phone and email. If something doesn’t look right, always double-check. Any sensitive paperwork should also be shredded and disposed of in the most secure way possible. 

Doing all of these things individually can be time-consuming. Luckily, we have come up with a list of the best identity theft protection companies for you to choose from. They each provide a full range of support that includes multi-bureau credit monitoring, protected web browsing, and rapid alert notifications on any public record changes like banking, finance, tax, or criminal records. 

Among these top companies, we recommend Identity Guard as the best choice for your and your family’s full protection. Here you will find an advanced AI-based system in place to identify and respond to threats rapidly, with some of the fastest alert and reporting times in the business. They also offer a range of great plans to meet your needs and budget with prices for their value plan starting from just $7.50 per month.

Anthony is a financial journalist and business advisor with several years’ experience writing for some of the most well-known sites in the Forex world. A keen trader turned industry writer, he is currently based in Shanghai with a finger on the pulse of Asia’s biggest markets.

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