There is, unfortunately, more than one way for someone to steal your identity. Perhaps you noticed you can’t access a bank account or email, or one of your social media profiles is locked. It may be that you have less money in your bank account than you initially thought, or your credit card balance is higher because of unauthorized charges. If you can’t account for any of the latest purchases on your account, someone may have stolen or bought the card number on the dark web and might be using it. Regardless of the scenario, having your identity stolen is not a pleasant experience. Some people take years to recover from it. According to Experian, there are multiple negative consequences to identity theft. However, there are many ways you can protect yourself from data breaches, and if someone steals your personal information about how you can protect against Identity Theft. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse, use Consumer Affinity’s Credit Monitoring solution, Split® to monitoring your credit and protect your identity.
Different Ways Of Defrauding and Types Of Identity Theft
As you guessed from the intro, not all identity theft has to do with your financial assets, although it is the most common type of identity theft crime. There are other types of identity theft that can include stealing money, but some can include acquiring services that the thief can’t or doesn’t want to pay for. You can become a victim of identity theft out in public, on the street, online, or just sitting at home while surfing the web. The reason for this is that we or companies we do business with allow information to get online that can, in the wrong hands, compromise our security. Most of us don’t give out that information knowingly, which is why there is a big lesson to be learned about internet security regarding how it may lead to ID theft. So, what are the most common types of identity theft?
- Taking Over An Account (Debit or Credit Card Fraud)
- Applying For A New Fraudulent Account (With Stolen Information)
- Medical Identity Theft (Using Victim’s Social Security Card/Number)
- Tax Identity Fraud (Using Your Personally Identifiable Information)
- Synthetic Identity Theft (Using Bits Of Victim’s Information to Create New Identity)
- Child Identity Theft (Use of Child’s SSN)
- Identity Theft For Loans (Using Victim’s PII to Take Out Loans)
- Online Shopping Fraud (Stealing Payment Information to Attempt More Online Transactions)
- Mail Fraud (Stealing Mail From Mailbox to Retrieve Personal Information and Attempt Fraudulent Activity)
While some of these are different than others, most fraudulent activities are based on personally identifiable information (PII). We will take a more general approach when dealing with any of these, as the steps that you need to take after identity theft are nearly always the same or similar.
Steps You Need To Take
1. Make Sure That You’re Being Defrauded
The process of reporting and dealing with a stolen identity is not an easy one. You want to check and double-check all of the relevant details and facts. Make sure that the purchases made or services used were not, in fact, made by you or someone you lent your card to. If you’re in the habit of lending someone your credit card or personal info, like payment information, then you are going to want to talk to them first. After you’ve established that there has indeed been a breach in your personal accounts, or that someone used your social security number or credit unbeknownst to you, it’s time to report it to the authorities.
2. Report to The Authorities
Depending on the account or personal information used in your instance, you will want to notify the right people that can help you. Do this as soon as you’re sure that someone was abusing your information. Financial institutions, the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, and even your local law enforcement may need to know, as they will commence their own investigative procedures. Be sure to check if your cards are all present. Report them lost or stolen and try to determine whether anyone had time to make a copy. Identity thieves can make a copy of your credit card numbers, your social security card, or driver’s license rather quickly, which is why you have no time to waste and should start acting fast upon noticing. Where credit cards are concerned, their information can be stolen using skimmers, bought on the dark web, or simply photographed.
3. Fighting Back Against Identity Theft
Identity thieves will go to all lengths to defraud. Perhaps you were going to file for a tax return, only to be notified that you’ve already filed (and it wasn’t you that did so). If someone else used your social security number, you will need to notify the IRS of the fraud. It’s with them that you need to submit the identity theft affidavit, the form that confirms that you’ve been a victim of tax fraud.
One can even use your SSN to gain access to medical care that they otherwise may not be able to access. Outlandish as it may sound, nearly a third of all data breaches were related back to medical ID theft. One way to fight back is to keep checking the claims activity on your medical account and report to the FTC, regardless of the nature or type of identity theft.
The third way of fighting back is also essential, and that is turning to credit bureaus. Namely, three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, are obliged to share and collect ID theft data. You can also request that they freeze your credit so that no one can pull information about you or obtain credit in your name while you’re recovering from having your identity stolen.
4. Installing a Protection and Recovery Plan
The journey to recovering from identity theft can be a long and difficult one, but the good news is that most of the damage is easily reimbursed to the victim. It takes time and patience to deal with the claims and investigative processes required. That is to say, you likely won’t suffer much in a financial sense, but it may take a toll on you mentally. That is why one of the most important steps toward recovery steps is feeling secure again. Talk to previous victims, learn about securing your personal finances, and have faith that it will pass soon enough. Request fraud alerts to be issued for credit and debit transactions, monitor your credit history and use whatever time is necessary to pick up the pieces.
Another way to ensure that you recover from identity theft and that you hold all the cards again is by using Consumer Affinity’s credit monitoring services, Split®. We can teach you how to protect your online security and maintain your privacy. You won’t have to worry that someone might again use your information since you can use this service to view all of your credit accounts and receive alerts on the suspicious activity going on in your credit accounts. Email alerts and notifications are an important part of such services.
It’s difficult to be completely immune to identity theft, so be on the lookout for your most personal information and employ the best practices to protect yourself. If you don’t think you can find everything you need to feel protected from a data breach, there are companies like ours that will work to educate you and gain a better sense of online safety.