Identity Theft is a serious crime in which a scammer steals your identity i.e. your personal information and uses it for illegal purposes.
Mostly, stolen identities result in financial fraud where the fraudsters use your credit card and bank account details to make illegal purchases and transactions.
But, financial fraud is not the only crime that scammers commit after stealing your identity. There many such types of fraud related to stolen identities that take place in the world every day.
Here in this article, we will try to answer all your queries related to identity theft. Like what is stolen identity, how identities are stolen, what can you do if your identity is stolen, and more. So that you can be well aware of your personal details and protect them from landing in the wrong hands.
Quick links to specific parts of article
- Types of Stolen Identity Frauds
- How Are Identities Stolen?
- What Happens When Your Identity Is Stolen?
- How To Know If Your Identity Is Stolen?
- What To Do With Stolen Identity?
- How To Protect Identity From Being Stolen?
- Final Thoughts
Types Of Stolen Identity Frauds
Once a scammer or hacker has your personal details they can use it for a variety of illegal tasks. Based on how they use it, you can fall prey to a number of stolen identity frauds such as
1. Financial Frauds
As we told you earlier, stolen identities are mostly misused to cause you financial loss. In this type of identity theft fraud, the scammers steal your bank account details and use them for making transactions and purchases without you knowing about it.
Scammers can get access to your bank accounts by hacking your internet banking username and password or by skimming your credit card details.
2. Criminal Identity Frauds
Other than financial gains criminals can also use stolen identities for escaping legal procedures. Using your personal information, the criminal can pretend to be you and dodge summons and avoid legal warrants issued in their actual name.
Moreover, you can get into legal problems if the criminal uses your personal information for committing crimes.
3. Synthetic Identity Frauds
These types of fraud are basically done for financial profits. A scammer uses a mix of fake and real details to create a new identity so that they can open new accounts for making fraudulent transactions and purchases.
The fake details are made up by the scammer while the real details are the ones they have stolen from somebody. These frauds are also one of the most rapidly growing financial crimes in the US. Scary, right!
4. Medical Identity Fraud
Medical Identity fraud is a kind of practice in which the stolen identity of a patient is used to receive reimbursement for healthcare insurance made on their name.
Basically, in this type of stolen identity fraud, someone poses as someone else and receives medical services meant for them.
5. TAX Frauds
This is also a very common type of fraud that happens around the world. Here, a scammer steals your personal details including your social security number to file a TAX return and collect the refund in your name.
How Are Identities Stolen?
In the earlier days, people would steal your information from your discarded documents and files that you may forget to shred before throwing in the bin. But in the era of computers and smartphones, it’s easier for scammers to get all of your details with a click of a button.
They can know everything about you from your social media profiles, or by hacking into your computers. Moreover, these days scammers are using advanced RFID technologies to steal your credit card details and other important information in the broad daylight without you knowing.
What Happens When Your Identity Is Stolen?
You are in for some trouble if your identity is stolen and most importantly if it lands in the wrong hands. Your information can be used for various illegal crimes as we discussed above.
But since most stolen identity crimes are finance-driven, you can go through a financial loss if you don’t do anything about it soon.
How To Know If Your Identity Is Stolen?
To know if your identity is stolen you can look for some clues like money deducting from your account for transactions you don’t make. You get medical bills for services you never used. You are not receiving emails, bills on your account.
What To Do With Stolen Identity?
As soon as you come to know that your identity is stolen or hacked by someone you should take these necessary measures to reduce the harm.
- The first thing you should do is to claim identity theft insurance if you have purchased an Identity Theft Protection Plan.
- Contact the police, as soon as you become a victim of stolen identity.
- You can also file a complaint with the FTC(Federal Trade Commission).
- Freeze your Credit/debit cards as they will save you from financial loss.
- Change your password, pins, and login credential of all your accounts.
How To Protect Identity From Being Stolen?
To protect your personal details from landing in the wrong hands, you should be very careful. Before discarding any document that has your details, you must destroy them so that the scammer can never retrieve any information from it.
In the case of physical documents, you can shred them and in the case of digital documents, you can permanently delete them from your devices.
Moreover, while you are visiting a crowded place or traveling from public transport like trains and buses, you should use special RFID blocking wallets and anti-theft bags, which can block RFID signals transmitted from your credit card and passports.
Also, make your social media passwords strong and keep changing them at regular intervals as it decreases the chances of hacking. The reason is that, by hacking your social media account hackers can gather a lot of information about you.
Stolen Identity- Final Thoughts
As scammers are now using advanced technologies to get their hands on your personal details, the cases of stolen identity are increasing day by day. So you need to be extra careful about it and take all possible precautions to protect your information from leaking.
You can also buy identity theft protection plans, which will cover some of your losses in case you become a victim of identity theft fraud.