Examples of Identity Theft
A report by Javelin Strategy & Research titled: 2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity shows that there were about 16.7 million identity fraud victims in the United States that year. Thanks to various forms of identity theft activities by increasingly sophisticated criminals, 30% of all U.S citizens lost a whopping $16.8 billion!
If it hasn’t happened to you yet, identity theft might be nothing more than an abstract concept. “How can someone steal your credit card information and use it without your knowledge?” You might ask. While that might be one form of identity theft, someone using your credit card without your knowledge is not the only type of identity theft out there.
Several examples will scare even the most skeptical of consumers. Here are some examples that should put this clear and present threat into perspective.
Social Security Identity Theft
In 2017, there were more social security numbers exposed and compromised by fraudsters than there was credit card information. Your SSN is by far one of the most essential government-based identity assets that you can own as an American citizen.
With your social security number, a fraudster can:
- Buy property
- Rent property
- Open a bank account
- Take out a loan
- Get a passport
A fraudster or identity thief can take advantage of any financial and social opportunities that are available for social security holders. However, the most common reason why fraudsters work so hard to steal your SSN is so that they can sell it to undocumented individuals who can then go on to do with it as they please.
Start by ordering a copy of your Earnings and Benefits Report to see if there are any discrepancies. If there are, you have to call the Social Security Administration and let them know about your case. In the worst case scenarios, you might have to change your SSN, but that will only come into effect if you fit a strict “fraud victim” criteria.
This type of fraud does not require a sophisticated mind to execute. Unscrupulous people can get a hold your driver’s license when you lose your wallet or when it is stolen. They then go ahead and either sell it to people who want it, or they use it to get themselves out of a road violation such as a DUI. If they can pass it off as their own, then it is your record that will be compromised while they drive away unscathed.
The first thing you need to do is report the theft to the police and tell them about the loss of your driver’s license. You should then file a complaint with the DMV and maybe even apply for a new driver’s license number so that the old one can be disabled.
Medical identity theft is one of the most prevalent types of identity fraud that occurs in the country. The problem with this kind of identity theft is that it doesn’t only put your finances at risk as fraudsters run up your health insurance bills thus increasing your premiums, but it also puts your life at risk. Whatever kind of medical procedures they take up in your name goes on your medical records.
These records are considered sacred by medical practitioners as they use them as a guide for future procedures. Fraudulent information on your medical record could lead a doctor to make a falsely informed decision that could end up adversely affecting your health or even causing your death.
Insurance identity theft, on the other hand, is very closely related to medical identity theft. They are considered the same in some circles. Insurance identity theft occurs when fraudsters gain access to your medical information and use your insurance to run up medical bills on their own procedures. The negative effects are the same.
It is difficult to know when you are a victim of medical identity theft and/or insurance identity theft. The best and most reliable way is to look closely at your EOBs (Explanations of Benefits) from your health insurance company.
If there is a line item on that list that is not familiar to you, then the next step is to file a complaint with the police as well as the insurance company. In many cases, the insurance company will take it upon themselves to investigate the issue and come up with a workable recommendation.
This type of identity theft is closely linked to the SSN and driver’s license identity theft. Once someone has access to most of your information, they can go ahead and commit crimes in your name.
In many cases, they even identify themselves as you when caught and get sued or even convicted in your name, thus keeping their own identities clean for future use. This could end up making your social life very difficult as most employers and financial companies look at your criminal records to see if you are a good fit.
Once you get a negative report on your criminal records, immediately contact the FBI as well as the state Department of Justice and report the matter. These authorities will follow things up and give you recommendations on how to clear your name following the identity theft.
As already mentioned, this is the most common type of identity theft. Financial identity theft occurs when you lose your credit card, or fraudsters use sophisticated methods to gain access to your bank information and data. They can then go on a shopping spree and spend all your money or credit until you get a hefty bill with unfamiliar line items in the mail.
This kind of identity theft is extremely detrimental to your credit records as these people are not exactly the kind to pay off your credit cards on time. They will simply use the credit cards and information they have and discard it as soon as it is of no further use to them.
Always check your credit records each year. If you suspect any fraudulent activity, you should immediately report the information to your bank and credit card company. In many cases, the credit cards in question will be canceled, and the matter will be looked into by the authorities.
You can also hire Identity Theft Protection Services to keep an eye out and give you periodic reports on any fraudulent activity appertaining to your cards and bank accounts.
Other types of identity theft you can experience include:
- Fraudulent Change of Address
- Phone Service Identity theft
- Tax identity theft
- Child identity theft
All of these should be of great concern to you. The good thing is that once you realize it is happening, there is always one type of federal authority or another that you can contact to help you make things right. The process will most likely be long and arduous, but it is well worth keeping your good name clean.