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How do you know you’re a victim of identity theft?

Did you know that almost 9 million consumers are victims of identity theft? It’s not unrealistic to think that you too could be struck by an unscrupulous identity thief. These new age criminals use the identity of other to access personal information and run-up credit card charges or worse, steal money from your bank account/s. Identity fraud or theft is considered to be a criminal offense, and in many countries, cybercrimes division looks investigates identity fraud. In this article, we will discuss the types of identity fraud and also the telling signs that your identity has been stolen.

More about identity theft

identity-theftIn this kind of theft, imposters steal the financial and/or personal information with the objective of using it illegally, usually to make large purchases in your name. There are many types of identity theft, and here we have detailed a few of the major ones.

The types of identity theft

Criminal identity theft

identity-theftCriminals sometimes identify themselves fraudulently to the police as someone else altogether. This is known as ‘criminal identity theft’. This happens in two ways – criminals give as their id legally issued documents which they have stolen from someone. Or he/she gives a fake id. If the fraud works, then the police charges are issued in the name of the victim.

The victim in these cases is totally unaware that a criminal charge exists in his/her name. Criminal id theft victims learn of the theft if they receive court summons or if potential employers perform background checks, or if their driving license is suspended for minor violations. This kind of theft leads to a world of hassle and emotional trauma for the victims, and it may take a long time to clear their names.

Synthetic identity theft

This is one of the types of identity theft in which an identity is partially or completely made up. A most common example of this involves using fake names, birth dates etc with real social security numbers. Synthetic theft of identity is difficult to track as it does not reflect in the victim’s credit reports. Many creditors are fooled into giving loans unwittingly to the fraudsters. When they realize they are duped, they report the matter, which is when these types of id theft are discovered.

Child identity theft

Child identity theftWhen a minor’s/child’s identity is stolen it is child id theft. The fraudster can be one of your friends, family members and strangers who target children. Children’s social security numbers are highly valued, as they don’t have information linked to them. Frauds can get driver’s licenses, buy homes, establish credit and so on. This scam goes undetected for many years, and is only discovered when the child grows up.

Medical identity theft

Medical theft happens when someone else gets hold of your insurance details and avails of your insurance benefits. Apart from the loss of insurance, medical theft has a deeper implication – the medical history of the thief might be added to yours, and this inaccurate information may cause a lot of trouble. Doctors might find it hard to diagnose or diagnose your disease incorrectly, and insurance companies may refuse to insure you.

Financial ID/Info theft

identity-theftThis is undoubtedly the id theft which is most common, wherein someone wants to get financial benefit using the victim’s identity. People seek loans, credits, services and goods under the victim’s name.

 Some other kinds of id theft are:

  • Driver’s license id theft
  • Insurance id theft
  • Tax id theft
  • Credit card fraud/scam/theft
  • Government benefits fraud
  • Phone id theft
  • Social Security ID theft

Signs to alert you to id theft

identity-theft

  • You stop receiving bills of your credit cards. This is because someone has changed your billing address.
  • One of the consequences of identity theft, is that you get charged for things which you did not buy using the credit card or debit card.
  • If you ever notice even a small charge on your credit card that you have not made; report it immediately. Thieves sometimes make small purchases to see if the account/card is active. If they find the card is working, then they make huge purchases. Identity theft recovery is complicated, so whenever you have the slightest suspicion, you must report it to the authorities.
  • You receive a message that ‘Your credit card application is rejected.’ But you have not even applied for one. On the other hand, your genuine application may be rejected.
  • You stop receiving tax refunds.
  • Your tax return is not accepted by the IRS as someone else has filed already, using your SSN.
  • If someone tries to access debit/credit card accounts, you will receive a reset code or new PIN number.
  • You receive tax refunds even though you have not filed your return.
  • Your credit card would have ‘hard enquires’ listed on it. Hard inquires occurs or are listed when you apply for a card. If you see hard inquires on your card, then it means that someone has used your name and applied for a credit card.
  • Your employer might notify you regarding  data breach. If you recently left your job, then an id thief might try to get your unemployment benefits.
  • You are charged for healthcare which you did not use.
  • Your health claim is rejected as according to records, you have received benefits already.
  • Your checks are rejected by merchants.
  • You start receiving catalogs and mailers for expensive things. Companies may be contacting you as someone bought something extremely costly using your id.
  • You might be surprised to see unknown addresses on the credit card statement, even though you have never visited or lived in that place.

A final note on the consequences of identity theft

The consequences of identity theft are that you may lose a lot of your money and end up having to borrow from your family and friends. You might have to stop working for some time, opt for payday loan and even sell some assets. The worst thing is when you have to settle the debts run up by the person who stole your identity. As identity theft recovery on a vacation or in general is difficult, be on the safer side by being alert and reporting the tiniest transaction details you have not made.

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