Identity theft is the technique of stealing someone else’s identity for personal gain. In this, the thief deliberately steals other person’s personal information to obtain benefits such as financial gain, medical benefits, etc. Hence, we can say that identity theft always leads to victim’s loss, be it financial loss or loss of service benefits.
The person whose identity is stolen may have to suffer adverse consequences if he is held responsible for the actions of the identity thief.
Identity fraud is not easily detectable by the victims and also it is not detected at the right time which leads to a disastrous impact on the victims. It can occur even if a person is dead!
What information could be stolen?
The information which an identity thief steals includes name, address, date of birth, bank account number, social security number, etc.
What can identity thieves do?
Identity thieves can do things which are beyond your imagination. They can do anything with your personal information. They can file your taxes to get fraudulent refunds, use your credit card to buy stuff, receive a medical treatment and alter your medical records, etc.
Identity thieves can even commit crimes such as drug smuggling, cyber-crimes, etc. using your identity.
What are the effects of identity theft on victims?
The effects of identity theft can be very serious depending on the crime. If you become the victim of financial identity theft, you might end up losing almost all your money. You could be charged with things you didn’t purchase or services you didn’t use. It is very difficult to get out of these situations and get back all your credit. You could also find yourself being burdened with debts. Getting free from the burden of debts and removing incorrect information could be very challenging.
If you become the victim of criminal identity theft, then you could find yourself in serious trouble as the crime is committed in your name. You could become part of a criminal investigation and it would become extremely difficult to prove your innocence.
Being a victim of identity theft can have a negative effect on your finances. It would become extremely difficult for you to acquire loans, credit cards, etc. Therefore, it is very important to detect identity theft as soon as possible.
What are the types of identity theft?
There are various types of identity theft. You can read the brief descriptions to understand the several types of identity theft:
1. Financial Identity Theft
It is the most common type of identity theft in which victim’s finances are at risk. Most people associate identity theft with this form. In financial identity theft, the thief tries to obtain a financial gain in another individual’s name. The financial gain could include accessing and using bank accounts, credit cards, etc. of another person as well as obtaining loans and new credit cards in another person’s name.
2. Medical Identity Theft
It is the most complicated form of identity theft as it not only involves financial loss but also puts victim’s medical records at risk. It is also very difficult to recover from. In this form of theft, the thief receives medical treatment using another person’s identity. In this, the victim is not only charged with hefty medical bills, but the victim’s medical history is also compromised. This is the biggest danger of medical identity theft. It could lead to the entry of wrong information in victim’s medical records which could create complications for the victim in future treatments.
3. Insurance Identity Theft
It is a new kind of identity theft. It is related to both financial identity theft and medical identity theft. If you are a victim of medical identity theft, then insurance identity theft could be a concern for you. The various problems that arise due to insurance identity theft could be difficulty in getting medical coverage, problems in settling payments, etc.
4. Child Identity Theft
Child identity theft, which seems to be uncommon, is a very common form of identity theft and is growing rapidly. Even children are not safe from identity theft! In this form of identity theft, the thief steals the identity of the child to obtain credit cards, mortgages, and driver’s license as well as to buy a house or a car, etc. The thief takes advantage of the child’s age as he/she is too young to use any of these and also doesn’t check on his/her records. The crime is discovered when the child becomes old enough to use these things/services. In most cases, the crime is committed by a friend or a family member.
5. Criminal Identity Theft
In criminal identity theft, the criminal steals another person’s identity to commit a crime. This form of identity theft could lead to the victim being arrested. The effects of criminal identity theft are as complicated as medical identity theft, as it is not easy to resolve it. One of the biggest complexity of this form of theft lies in the fact that the even after court and police records are corrected, there may be some databases with incorrect records.
6. Driver’s License Identity Theft
This form of identity theft could be committed very easily. It only requires your driver’s license to get stolen. Your driver’s license could be sold to a person looking similar to you. This way it further leads to criminal identity theft. The thief could use the license while committing traffic violations like drunk driving, crossing red lights, speeding, etc. All the charges would be filed in the name of the person who is the actual holder of the driver’s license.
7. Social Security Identity Theft
It includes theft of your Social Security Number (SSN). SSN is the most important personal information of an individual as all the other personal information are linked to the SSN. If your SSN is stolen, then all your personal information are at risk and you could be a victim of social security identity theft. A thief can use your SSN to obtain government benefits, passport, loans, credit cards, etc.
8. Synthetic Identity Theft
Synthetic identity theft is the most recent form of identity theft. In this, the thief does not steal the identity of a particular person instead, he combines the information of various individuals to create a new identity. This way, more than one person is affected by this form of identity theft. Sometimes, the thief even creates a fictional identity, i.e. an identity which doesn’t even exist! That’s why it is very difficult to track.
Protection from Identity Theft:
You can secure your identity from theft attacks by following few easy steps-
- Protect your cell phones from being caught
- Keep a password that cannot be guessed
- Check your credit reports regularly
- Keep your sensitive information secured and never share it with anyone
- Don’t believe on phishing emails