Nothing can be more unfortunate than being a victim of identity theft. Over the last decade, identity theft has come out as a burning issue in the digital world. In today’s world, virtual identity carries a lot of significance. Almost all types of official documentation and procedure have shifted to virtual mode, and the number of identity thefts increases drastically. It’s way easier for criminals and hackers to break into virtual servers than stealing hard copies of documents and official papers. No matter how secure your network or server is, your online identity can be stolen anytime.
In recent times, cases of identity theft have increased unimaginably. The worst thing about identity theft is that you won’t even have a track of when your virtual identity got stolen. Without your authorization and prime knowledge, someone else will use your identity to accomplish different purposes. Doesn’t that sound horrible? The rate of identity theft increased due to the lack of awareness among users. This article aims to discuss all relevant information about identity theft that you must know as an internet user.
What is Identity Theft, Actually?
Before you get precise information about identity theft, you need to know what it actually is. The majority of the global population doesn’t possess clear concepts of identity theft. Their knowledge about identity theft is somewhat foggy. Identity theft is a special crime where the criminal attempts to utilize someone else’s identity or financial information for his own purposes.
Be it making illegal purchases or transactions or committing frauds, and identity theft can be done for multiple purposes. Most of the time, the victims of identity theft don’t have clues that their official identities or information are being used illegally and unauthorizedly. Physical identity theft and virtual identity theft both are possible, but the rate of virtual identity theft is escalating at an awful speed.
It’s quite natural for an individual to throw away a waste cheque while coming out of a bank. But do you know that someone is waiting to collect that canceled cheque and ruin your credit rating completely? Almost all of us do online shopping, and we add our card details and financial information on different websites.
But that becomes a gateway for an identity thief to hack into your system and use your personal information and commit illegal things. Alongside, there are multiple ways of identity theft that frauds use to scam people. Let’s check out the major types of identity theft that occur often.
Different Types of Identity Theft:
You can be a victim of identity theft in different ways. Here, we’ve listed all the types of identity thefts that you may face anytime. Go through the list to take preventive measures beforehand.
Financial identity theft
Finance-related identity thefts are happening every now and then. In this pattern of identity theft, the victim’s financial information like- credit card details, bank account details, or other information gets stolen. After that, the person gets bankrupt as the identity thief takes out all the money and other financial assets from his account. Even if it does go to that extent, the thief uses the victim’s financial information for making illegal and unauthorized purchases and transactions.
Criminal identity theft
Most criminals attempt to steal common people’s identities to escape from their sentences. Suppose a criminal gets arrested or suspected of a specific crime and provides a false identity that belongs to another person. In such a case, the police will charge the person to whom the identity proof belongs. Therefore, the criminal won’t get the punishment. This is the most horrible type of identity theft indeed. In this type of identity theft, mostly visas, driving licenses, and national Ids get stolen.
Tax-related identity theft
In this type of identity theft, the thief steals someone’s social security number to file fake tax returns. This type of identity theft is also very common, and tax identity thefts occur frequently. Anyway, this kind of miserable crime can ruin a victim’s life entirely. Such a victim stands a chance to be sentenced to life imprisonment unless he proves that he isn’t guilty. Almost every country has strict punishments for tax-related fraud.
Medical identity theft
Though this sounds inhuman to steal someone’s access to medical facilities, medical identity thefts still happen frequently. In this type of identity theft, an individual’s health insurance Id or insurance plan documents get stolen. After that, the victim’s insurance provider receives fake medical bills frequently. Afterward, when the victim tries to claim insurance facilities himself for medical emergencies, his account statement shows that he has already used the facilities. What can be more unfortunate than that? Especially, the rate of medical identity theft reached sky-limit after the pandemic outbreak of coronavirus.
Senior identity theft
Every country has special facilities and services for senior citizens. The sad part is that criminals don’t even hesitate while stealing the senior identities of veterans. Once the senior identity of a veteran is stolen, someone else enjoys the facilities he is supposed to have. Later, when the victim tries to use his senior identity benefits, he gets deprived of that right. The latest statistics indicate that seniors are the primary targets of scammers and frauds. Naturally, the rate of senior identity theft is higher than other types of identity thefts.
Synthetic identity theft
Synthetic identity thefts are all about compiling fake and authentic information of different individuals and creating new identities. In this type of theft, the criminal associates fake and original information from various sources and creates a false identity using all those. Unlike other types of identity thefts, this pattern is less harmful to individuals. But this kind of theft causes unbearable losses to insurance companies, loan services, and public lenders.
Child identity theft
A specific social security number is issued for every newborn in all countries. However, the official name of the document may vary from country to country, but the main objective of the document is the same. Surprisingly, scammers don’t spare the social security numbers of children! They steal the social security numbers of children for claiming government facilities and taking loans illegitimately.
So, these are the different types of identity thefts that come into the headlines often. Any of these identity thefts is harassing and unfortunate. Now, how do you know whether your identity has been stolen or not? Well, we’ll discuss that in the next segment.
The Warning Signs of Identity Theft:
- You may start noticing frequent unauthorized withdrawals or deductions from your bank account. If you check your bank account statement to follow up on these deductions and withdrawals, the entire scenario will become clear for you.
- If someone steals your identity for using your financial accounts, you will notice rapid changes in your credit score. As you keep checking your credit score on and off, you’ll be able to detect any kind of fraud activity at the initial stage.
- You can track identity theft by looking into your credit report sincerely. You may notice the presence of false accounts and charges in your credit report once your identity gets stolen.
- Small amounts will keep getting deducted from your account, and you won’t receive bills for those transactions. Also, you won’t get financial updates from your financial accounts and deposits.
- Your health insurance claim might get rejected straightaway. As you follow up with that, your insurance provider may inform you that you’ve used the insurance benefits already. If you check the claim history, you will see unauthorized claims from unknown accounts.
- Important personal data or information might get lost from your laptop. If you’ve hired a third-party service to manage your personal information, they might inform you about a data breach. Some of your crucial personal information and data might get lost completely.
These are the signs that warn you about identity theft. If any of these has happened with you lately, you should contact the local police station immediately. Also, seek assistance from the cybercrime department to track your documents and data.
How Do You Prevent Identity Theft?
You have nothing to do about identity theft except being precautious. An extra sincerity can help you eliminate the chances of identity theft. Such misery can ruin your financial stability, social status, and your entire life too. So, it’s wise to have your eyes on all your financial and official documents to prevent identity theft. Now, how do you make that possible? Let’s check the things to consider for preventing identity theft-
- Never leave your credit score and credit report unchecked for a long time. Being indifferent about your credit system makes no sense. Such an act invites criminals to break into your financial accounts. So, don’t forget to check your credit reports in association with major credit bureaus regularly. Look into every transaction you’re notified of.
- Keeping track of your bills is a mandate to eliminate the chances of identity theft. Ensure that you remain updated on your billing cycles. Whenever you miss a bill, get in touch with your creditor to get information about the missing bill.
- Check your bank accounts and other financial accounts on a regular basis. That will help you notice even minor changes in your bank balances.
- Refrain from uploading your account details or personal details on every other website. Online purchases often turn out to be the gateways for hackers and criminals to get people’s financial information. Before you upload your financial details on a website, verify the website’s authenticity. Try to avoid online payments as much as possible. It’s better to prefer cash-on-delivery systems over online payments. That’s how you keep your financial accounts safe.
- Do you have the habit of leaving unsolicited credit applications or statements on your office table? That can be too risky for you eventually. But nobody gives enough importance to such documents. But do you know that a criminal can get all your financial details from such a document? So, destroy such documents when you’re thinking of throwing them out. Instead of throwing them into the dustbin, destroy those completely.
- It’s a foolish act to carry your social security card or other cards with you wherever you go. Losing such a card in a public place increases the risk of identity theft. So, it’s better to take them out of your wallet and keep them in safe places at your home.
- Never save your financial details or soft copies of your official Id documents in your office’s server. If a hacker breaks into your office’s server somehow, he will get access to all your details. Avoid such a mistake to keep your personal information safe and protected.
- Consider shredding your financial documents that are of no use. Such documents contain crucial information. You can’t afford to compromise the confidentiality of those information pieces. Therefore, it’s advisable to shred such documents after you’ve used them successfully.
- All of us receive hundreds of unsolicited calls and emails every day from fraud companies. Such companies commit fraud by collecting financial information from people and bankrupting them. You’re not supposed to fall into such a trap. So, don’t provide personal details and financial information in response to such emails and calls.
So, now you have complete knowledge about identity theft. You have already been introduced to different types of identity theft, and we have also suggested some tips to avoid such frauds. The increasing rate of identity theft can be controlled only with awareness. Remember that it’s extremely hard to track the criminals who steal identities. So, your local police station and cybercrime branch can’t help you at all after you’ve shared your personal details with an illegitimate person. Protecting your personal details is completely in your hand.
You can do that easily by executing the tips and strategies mentioned above. As you do that promptly, the risks of identity theft become way less for you. So, we suggest you go through the entire article sincerely. First of all, you need to figure out which mistakes you have been making to date about protecting your information. Then make sure that you don’t repeat those. That’s all you need to do from your side. So, put your knowledge into work and keep your personal information secure.
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