Curious About Identity Theft? You're Not Alone

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The global reliance on technology is felt by both individuals and businesses. It provides many benefits to both. At the same time, it has come at the price of multiple setbacks. Most institutions and individuals have adopted the use of technological trends to store their personal and customer information.

One of the biggest threats to information security is identity theft. Identity theft refers to illegally using someone’s personal information such as name, address, social security number, or credit card details without their knowledge to commit fraud. Most victims are unaware of how their personal information was obtained, making it hard to mitigate the losses earlier. By going through these questions, individuals can learn more about identity theft and how best to protect themselves.

The Five Important Questions About Identity Theft

1: How Do Identity Thieves Obtain Personal Information?

A: Identity thieves use various techniques to obtain an individual’s personal information and use the info to authenticate themselves. Identity thieves may rummage through an individual’s trash to get documents containing personal information. They may also steal someone’s credit cards, bank cards, and other identification documents by pickpocketing or house break-ins. The attackers may also use card-readers to skim information from the victim’s credit cards and create a clone card. They can also attack an organization’s systems that store significant amounts of personal data through hacking. Identity thieves sometimes obtain finger castings to manipulate fingerprint identification systems. Identity thieves also impersonate organizations to send out emails, texts, or calls to trick the victim into giving them their personal information. They may steal checks to obtain an individual’s banking details, account numbers, and bank branch codes.

2: What are The Types of Identity Theft?

A: There are several different types of identity theft. Financial identity theft involves using someone’s personal information for financial fraud. The thieves use personal information to gain an economic advantage by obtaining credit, loans, goods, and services. Social identity theft uses an individual’s name and pictures to create a false profile on social media platforms. Thus, they can easily trick the victim’s family and friends into thinking it’s the right person and ask for various favors. Medical identity theft uses the victim’s Medicare ID or health insurance member number to obtain free medical care and related services. The identity thief may also use the healthcare records to send falsified medical bills to the victim’s insurance provider. Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses personal information, including social security number, to falsify tax returns. The identity thief may use the SSN to file sham returns and collect refunds in the victim’s name. Synthetic identity theft uses stolen personal information and combines it with fake information to create a new identity. The criminal uses this information to open fraudulent bank accounts to steal money and make purchases.

3: What are The Indicators of Identity Theft?

A: Most identity theft victims don’t know they are victims until it’s time to be falsely responsible for the negative repercussions. Some of the warning signs of identity theft include: credit or debit card billing on products and services one didn’t order, including unauthorized account withdrawals. You might also receive credit cards that were not applied for. People may see their cheques bounce or their credit score suddenly drop without an explanation. This also damages loan approvals. A post office may explain that mail is being forwarded. 

4: Who Are Potential Identity Theft Victims?

A: Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, given how they share information and keep their documents. Children and the elderly are potential victims where criminals use a child’s or a senior’s name and SSN to obtain loans, residence, or employment. Frequent and mega social media users may also have their photos and details used to open fake accounts that confuse followers. High-income individuals also become a target for identity thieves looking to use their credit card and bank details.

5: How Does One Prevent Identity Theft?

A:Measures that individuals can take to avoid identity theft include collecting mail daily and placing a hold on the mail when one is away from home, avoiding sharing of personal information when someone asks them, and shredding documents that contain personal info before disposal. It’s also very important to pay close attention to the billing reports and cycles. A person should safeguard one’s SSN and provide it only when necessary and to the relevant authorities. It’s smart to place a fraud report on the credit report and installing firewalls and anti-malware software on devices.