When a thief gathers information about you and uses it to impersonate or defraud you, it’s called identity theft. Identity theft is linked to fraud.
It is easy for people to get hold of private information nowadays, whether it is because of negligence on the part of the victim, by hacking into databases and accounts, or by stealing cards, a lost cause without credit sage.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
There are several ways that identity thieves can obtain personal information. As technology improves, so do hackers and fraudsters. Identity thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, which allows them to access private information easily, and within seconds.
Today, you must be hypervigilant, and keep your personal information as private as possible. You must take the time to educate yourself when it comes to technology, scams, and criminal activity.
A large percentage of identity theft is related to your Social Security Number. All government and business-related documents require your SSN. Unfortunately, no amount of security measures can stop all businesses or government entities from ever being hacked.
Most cases of fraud involved credit cards, followed by payment apps, or services.
Thieves access your information by:
- Stealing your cards,
- Digging through your mail,
- Buying personal information from an inside, third-party source who has access to your information,
- Skimming information from an ATM,
- “Phishing” scams,
- Using information that has been shared on social media or websites, and
- Posing as other people.
What Are The Dangers Of Identity Theft?
The dangers of identity theft may be far worse than you can conceive. Financial loss is just one of the serious dangers of identity theft. As the year 2022 comes to an end, you need to consider how you can protect yourself from this alarming upsurge of fraud, and specifically identity theft.
Identity thieves can:
- Open new accounts in your name
- Take out loans
- Steal your tax rebates
- Spend large amounts of money
- Post on your social media, and send out scam links
- Commit crimes in your name
- Own your email, or other accounts linked to your accounts
Having access to all your information enables identity thieves to use your information against you, use your cards and accounts, and cause social damage. Ultimately, they could ruin your job, or create other social, and financial issues by accessing your social media and email accounts.
This Will Leave You Having To Resolve Several Issues Such As:
- Closing your accounts,
- Canceling your cards,
- Repairing your credit score,
- Dealing with the repossession of collateral due to non-payment e.g., your house
- Recovering stolen funds,
- Paying off debts,
- Resolving any crimes which could have been committed in your name.
Signs That You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft, Or That You Are At Risk
- Inaccuracies on your credit reports,
- Suspicious activity on your credit card, and bank statements,
- Unexpected, and unfamiliar physical mail & missing physical mail,
- Missing Identification Documents (lost or stolen),
- Suspicious calls, messages, and voicemails,
- Receiving unfamiliar SMS verification codes to verify a service like Google,
- Incorrect income tax return, or
- Unfamiliar devices have access to your online accounts.
What Can I Do To Lessen The Risk Of Identity Theft?
- Go through your credit reports regularly, and dispute any inaccurate information,
- Regularly check for unauthorized charges or withdrawals on all your debit and credit accounts,
- Don’t ignore the smaller suspicious transactions– this could be a tactic used by thieves to test you,
- Check for unfamiliar charges on your credit card accounts or suspicious inquiries on your credit file,
- Get a free credit report from federally approved companies,
- Sign up for identity theft protection,
- Get an insurance policy, and sign up for protection against identity theft through official channels,
- Do not access your financial, or personal information using public Wi-Fi, or unsecured networks,
- Do not give out your SSN, or other financial information, especially over the phone or as a response to a message, or an online form unless the person/company can verify their authenticity,
- Check with your bank, or the company contacting you if you are unsure about messages supposedly sent by them. You can find the correct details, and numbers for queries related to scams, on official websites,
- Rather go directly to your bank, or the company which claims they need your information to check the legitimacy,
- Shred any mail or documents that have personal information instead of just tossing in trash,
- Use trusted sites when shopping online – rather use an app if you can, and
- Change your passwords often, and do not use the same passwords for more than one or two accounts.
It is up to you to check your credit reports regularly, watch your transactions to ensure that there is no suspicious activity taking place, and keep your details private.
Identity theft is a serious matter; it can essentially destroy your life by throwing you into massive debt, and getting your possessions taken away by creditors or repo companies. It is a giant setback, and can take a lot of time to recover from.