According to a recent study by the Federal Trade Commission, millions Americans fall prey to identity theft every year. Additionally, the study reported that a stolen ID is used an average of 30 times before the victim finds out. This means that it can take almost a whole year for you to know that your identity has been stolen. However, you can take precautionary measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. Familiarise yourself with the types of information that identity thieves are stealing to commit offenses.
Common types of identity theft
- Medical ID theft
- Character ID theft
- Social Security ID theft
- Driver’s license ID theft
- Financial ID theft
What do thieves do with the stolen information?
As soon as the thieves get your personal information, they can withdraw money from your bank accounts, create charges on your credit cards, open utility accounts, apply for loans and get medical treatment on your health coverage. Additionally, an identity thief can also file a tax reimbursement in your name and get a refund. In extreme circumstances, the thief can give out your name to law enforcement agencies in case of an arrest.
How can you know that your personal information has been stolen?
Data breaches are the new normal, and the issue is likely to get worse as identity thieves are getting better at stealing personal information. Every company, no matter how strong their security is, has something that thieves want. The best way to stay safe is to check your financial statements regularly and be vigilant of identity theft signs like;
- Your electronic tax filing is denied
- Your credit application is rejected no matter your credit rating
- You receive bills for items you haven’t purchased
- You are not receiving vital mails like checks and bills
- You have received a notice that your Personal identifiable information (PII) was part of a data breach
- Collection notices of a debt you don’t owe
- You get a notification from IRA that more than one tax return was filed in your name
How to prevent identity theft
The following are tips for protecting yourself from identity theft;
Using Artificial Intelligence
Identity documents like passports and drivers licensed can be scanned to test various elements of an ID, either on grounds or remotely using mobile devices. Using an identity verification service powered by machine learning creates a more effective and precise process than depending on a human to look at the document.
Check your credit report and monitor your financial and medical statements frequently
You are authorized to get a credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Additionally, you can request your report every four months to check for doubtful or improper information throughout the year. Also, read bank and credit card statements and make sure you identify every charge even if it is small. Call to investigate any missed bill and review the description of benefits to see if you identify all the services delivered to protect yourself from health care fraud.
Identity theft is frightening. It can cost you money and time to repair your financial status after identity theft. In the meantime, do away with the ‘pen it down on a notepad’ method of password management. You can use a software application that can produce and store passwords on your behalf. If you think your information has been compromised, contact your bank or Credit Card Company right away.