Four Signs your Identity Might be Stolen
With the rise of technology and the increasing use of personal information online, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the potential dangers and take steps to protect yourself.
Identity theft is a serious issue that affects millions of people each year. With the rise of technology and the increasing use of personal information online, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the potential dangers and take steps to protect yourself.
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What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of someone else’s personal information for illegal purposes, such as opening a credit card in someone else's name or using someone else's Social Security number to get a job. The goal is to steal money or gain other benefits by using someone else’s identity.
What are the four most common signs your identity might be stolen?
- Unexpected bills or credit card statements
- New accounts opened in your name that you did not authorize
- A sudden drop in your credit score
- Unknown charges or withdrawals from your bank account.
What are the statistics around identiy theft in the US?
- An estimated 15 million Americans had their identity stolen in 2021, according to Javelin Strategy; however, a huge majority of cases went unreported (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research | 2022 Identity Fraud Study: The Virtual Battleground)
- Identity thieves stole around $52 billion from Americans last year (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research | 2022 Identity Fraud Study: The Virtual Battleground)
- More than 40 million U.S. consumers fell victim to identity theft in 2021 (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research | 2022 Identity Fraud Study: The Virtual Battleground)
- The most likely victims of identity theft in 2021 were people from 30 to 39 years old (Source: Federal Trade Commission | Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2021)
How does identity theft happen?
Social Security numbers, birthdates, home addresses, bank account information, and driver’s license details. These details are the target of the fraudster. The fraudster will take this sensitive information to fake your identity and apply for credit cards, loans, and more.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common ways identity thieves can get their hands on your valuable data:
- Data breaches: Many companies store your data, from your health care provider to your internet service provider. For example, you may save payment details for your favorite shopping site. If hackers target those companies in a data breach, they can leak or access your sensitive information.
- Social media: Criminals may look to your social media to get information, like your birthdate and home address. Even seemingly innocent details, like the names of your children or pets, can be of interest to an identity thief. Why? People often use these details in their passwords. You might consider setting your account to private or withholding personal details.
- Simple theft: Not all identity thieves use advanced methods to get your information. In fact, a person can steal your phone and access any personal data you have on it if they can unlock it. Since many people save passwords to sensitive accounts on their devices, they are easy to hack. This happens more often than you might think.
- Dumpster diving: This is another example of a less tech-savvy approach to identity theft. If you throw away documents with sensitive data, thieves may get the information they want from your garbage. For example, bank account statements contain your account numbers, while pay stubs may include Social Security numbers. You should always shred paperwork before tossing it.
Here’s a list of five of the most common types of identity theft according to Mcafee.
- Financial identity theft: This form of identity theft is exactly what it sounds like and involves a criminal stealing your financial information. For instance, your credit card number can be stolen and used to make a purchase.
- Medical identity theft: With medical identity theft, someone steals your personal information to obtain health care services. An example is someone else using your identity to obtain prescription drugs.
- Criminal identity theft: This form of identity theft occurs when someone else uses your name when arrested. You’ll know this has happened to you if you receive a court summons, for instance, that you had no involvement with.
- Synthetic identity theft: A rising form of identity theft, synthetic identity theft is when someone creates a fake identity using someone’s real information. For instance, an imposter might create a fake identity using someone else’s real birthdate and Social Security number to apply for a loan.
- Child identity theft: With child identity theft, a criminal uses a minor’s personal information to commit bank fraud or another form of identity theft.
🚨In conclusion, it is important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your identity. Here are 6 ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim in 2023
- Download the True Finance App - free alerts against fraud.
- Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
- Be careful when giving out personal information, especially over the phone or online.
- Monitor your credit reports and financial accounts regularly on the True App
- Shred sensitive documents before throwing them away.
- Use a secure connection when accessing personal information on public Wi-Fi.