Have you heard any of the horror stories in the news recently about identity theft? It seems to be everywhere, ranging from massive data breaches at large companies to senior citizens having their pension checks stolen.
Maybe you even know someone that’s been the victim of some type of identity theft. And now you’re starting to realize just how vulnerable you are when it comes to your personal information. If ID theft happened to them, it could happen to you, right?
In this article, we’re going to talk about how frighteningly common identity theft has become, exactly what ID theft is, and the best ways that you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of the identity theft crisis.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when an imposter obtains personal data or information about another person. This happens with the intention of using it for personal gain or destruction. It’s a recognized crime across the globe, punishable by jail time and maximum penalties if caught.
The most common forms of identity theft involve the following:
- Driver’s license theft
- Social Security number theft
- Medical insurance information theft
- Tax ID theft (tax fraud)
When this information is obtained, it can easily be used in a number of creative, incriminating ways of personal gain for the perpetrator. Some identity theft is purely opportunistic. An individual might misplace a personal document and it’s found by someone who, in turn, chooses to use it illegally.
Other cases of identity theft are more calculated, with thieves isolating a specific individual to target. The act is most likely based on predetermined facts about the individual. This can be done by stalking, stealing mail, or acquiring information from external sources.
Whatever the reason, becoming a victim of identity theft is not a scenario you want to find yourself in at any point. If the theft leaves you in a compromising situation with the law, proving your innocence is unfortunately never as easy as proclaiming stolen documents.
Below, we’ll look at exactly how you can protect yourself from these experiences in advance. But first, let’s discuss the reasons why someone would need to make use of another identity in the first place.
Why Does Identity Theft Happen?
According to some shocking statistics, in America alone, an identity is stolen every two seconds. It’s quite terrifying when you consider how high the risk and likelihood is of actually going through such an experience.
Nine times out of ten, the main reason for the act is the need to access money very quickly and seeing no other way of doing so. Criminals see stealing an identity as a fast, easy, and risk-free way of reaching their goal.
In rarer occasions, we find identity thieves who have alternative motives. In poorer and less policed regions of the world, it’s not uncommon for people to steal the identities of foreign travelers. The obtained documentation is then used to gain an elevated status of citizenship by forging marriage or immigration papers.
Whatever the reason, identity theft is a desperate means to an end in the minds of many thieves, and it’s an all-too-common occurrence in today’s digital world. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent identity theft from happening to you or your loved ones.
ID Theft Prevention Services Explained
While there are many services on the market that claim to prevent identity theft, the truth is that no one can wholly prevent another from having their identity stolen. But in most cases, ID theft is a crime of opportunity, and if thieves find a roadblock between them and your personal info, they’ll choose to move on without any damage to you.
That’s where ID theft prevention services come into play by placing that roadblock between you and identity theft. What these services can do is offer extensive monitoring of your personal information. They will notify you when your identity security seems to have been breached.
There are two aspects to identity theft prevention program agencies:
- Monitoring services keep an eye out for any signs that one’s personal information may have been compromised and offer instant threat alerts.
- Recovery services attempt to rectify and regain control of the situation if you ever do become the victim of identity theft.
Credit Monitoring Service
Most identity theft protection companies offer both identity and credit monitoring services wrapped into one, as well as access to recovery services if the need should ever arise.
As the name suggests, credit monitoring involves close observation of all transactions happening on your credit reports. The goal is to detect and resolve a problem before it has the opportunity to grow into a crisis.
Credit monitoring will alert you to any of the following:
- When a loan or credit card is opened in your name
- Change in your credit limits or credit score
- A debt collector is looking for you
Identity Monitoring Service
Identity monitoring works closely with municipal and public records to attempt to alert you anytime there are changes made to your personal information. These involve:
- Bank account numbers
- Medical insurance
- Driver’s license
Typically, this covers all the areas not covered by credit monitoring by using a multitude of databases to collect information. It compares them repeatedly to detect any notable changes or differences in data.
For example, a big red flag for an identity monitoring service would be if they compared your mail delivery address to a number of subscription-based websites. They could find that one of them was attempting to have a specific piece of mail redirected to a new address.
This kind of broad monitoring allows the service to notify you in any of the following instances:
- Use of personal information
- Court records or open cases
- Info being sold on the Dark Web
- Subscriptions to online services
- Any address change attempts
How to Keep Your Identity Safe
If your identity security is of value to you, it is better to get the professionals on your side before you become a target. Not after, when a fraud alert is too late.
As our world becomes even more Internet-based, it’s more important than ever to monitor your personal information for fraudulent activity. But who has the time to do that in their already jam-packed schedule?
That’s why signing up with a trusted identity protection service is so important. It not only makes your life easier, but it also gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered by an expert in identity theft prevention.
For a small monthly fee, the top-rated ID theft protection companies can help you sleep much better at night. You’ll love knowing that they’re serving as a safety net between you and the identity theft criminals that never sleep!