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Identity Theft: The Basics


The Different Forms of Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when a thief uses your personal information to steal money from you or others. Though it’s mainly for money, they may use your ID for other things such as getting services or preventing detection of their true identity.

Thieves will normally use your full name or your social security number, but another typically used number is your credit card number. These details can be stolen in a variety of methods, such as dumpster diving or shoulder surfing or simply by a relative or close friend.

Identity theft has the added problem that it can go months and even years before the theft is even detected. If it does get detected, then the problem is proving that it was theft. This can be hard as it can look like a normal purchase and there is no obvious criminal behavior.

There are a few different forms of identity theft.

Financial Identity Theft
The most commonly found and spoken about is credit card information theft. The negative effects are felt almost immediately and so; many banks have ways to combat this. Though it can be quickly stopped, it can also allow for large sums of money to be stolen.

Another form of financial identity theft is a thief filing your tax returns, using your social security number (SSN) they can file and then steal your tax returns.

Child Identity Theft
Children are especially vulnerable to identity theft, because most don’t have any additional information connected to their SSN and therefore a thief could take it and open lines of credit under it or numerous other things. These thefts can also go unnoticed until the child becomes an adult and tries to get their own credit card or make a large purchase.

Medical Identity Theft
With the high cost of medical procedures and drugs, medical identity theft can be quite lucrative. Thieves can use your info to have procedures done or to buy a lot of restricted medicine. But the more common form of medical ID theft is false billing, where they will bill your insurance provider for bogus medical bills.

Senior Identity Theft
Seniors are especially vulnerable to identity theft and they are more likely to have a chunk of money that is easily accessed. The reason they are more vulnerable is because seniors are more likely to need medical services and so their info will be more easily attainable. Also, any seniors in assisted living are likely to have caregivers whom have access to their records and financials, making theft simpler.

Social Identity Theft
Finally, quite a new form of identity theft is the use of your social media accounts to steal valuable information from you. Nowadays, websites like Facebook contain a lot of personal information. Things such as your home address, email address and cellphone number. And this personal data can be used to steal from you or used to scam even more information out of you.

With the advent of the internet and connected living, identity theft is becoming more and more of a problem. People will need to become more vigilant with how they handle their data, because identity thieves are constantly coming up with new ways to steal from you.