Have you ever thought that each person on the globe can suffer from identity theft? Though it may sound unbelievable, almost 1.5 million people have been subjected to identity theft last year. Moreover, if to analyze the tendency for several previous years, this number keeps growing and therefore, identity protection is one of the most significant questions nowadays. If you do not want to be the next person to be involved in fraud or be robbed, it is time to find out how to protect yourself from identity theft and undertake certain actions.
You will agree that the information we store or provide on the Internet is under great threat since little do people think about their identity protection having fun online. However, today it is one of the most serious pitfalls they make.
Look: this article will suggest you 10 tips on how to keep your identity protected and avoid its theft.
Being aware of the consequences of identity theft and looking for an answer to the question ‘how can you protect yourself from identity theft?’, many people do not exactly know what this term means. It is impossible to protect yourself from danger if you simply do not know what it is, how to define and recognize it.
Identity theft also known as identity fraud is a group of crimes committed against individuals by means of obtaining personal and financial data in an illegal way – by fraud or deception. Being aware of certain details of this data, criminals can get financial gain stealing the money saved by this person, applying for a credit loan, getting a tax refund or doing that in many other ways. As a result, a person whose personal and financial data was stolen can be left with nothing as well as might be made to pay for the credit he or she has never applied for and used.
Since the number of identity thefts is increasing every year and the Internet has made a great contribution to that making the information more accessible, nowadays, this type of crime is the third in the list of the complaints to Federal Trade Commission and is punished several if caught red-handed. Criminals accused of identity theft are sent to prison for up to 2 years.
It often happens that identity theft is associated with wiping out the account of a credit card, but have you ever thought the variety of the identity theft types is much bigger? In fact, the most common ones look as follows:
Taking the first prize in the number of yearly reports credit card fraud remains a big problem since the chances to define a criminal and return funds back are very low. It works in the following way: having all the necessary data a criminal applies for a credit card or a loan, gets approval, and takes these funds. Another problem connected with this type is the fact that people learn about the loans they have never applied for very late and lose not only big money stolen but also have to take the burden of all the fees and commissions added.
It is not a secret that US residents can claim a tax refund. Being aware of the social security number and several more personal details a criminal can file a fake tax return in a person’s name. Moreover, a real owner of this refund will learn about this fact only when he or she decided to claim for a return too.
There are scammers who order certain utility services from another person’s name and make use of them free of charge. Another popular type of fraud connected with the theft of personal information is getting enough data about a person to ensure a mobile provider in the loss of SIM card and phone. A restored SIM and a new phone are sold or used for other criminal activities.
Possession of certain personal details allows criminals to take advantage of federal benefits you have deserved or getting certain documents. It is often connected with the benefits given to parents who raise kids or help issued to disabled people. The same goes for people who have already passed away while their personal data is used for loans, getting benefits, selling real estate, etc. As a result, their heirs will have to pay out the debts caused by criminals.
Any person who knows your social security number and some more personal details can visit a doctor instead of you, get a prescription on certain drugs and even file a claim with the insurance provider you have selected. As a result, you will have to pay the bills or they will be considered unpaid ones to impact your credit score.
It is not a rarity that people who go far away share this information online. Scammers get and use it against these people. They call or write messages to their relatives and friends, share certain details about this person and pretend that they are in trouble and need money. Such stressful situations make people act unwisely and quickly and send big sums to criminals.
It can be challenging to find out that your personal data was stolen by someone. Usually, people do not pay much attention to certain trifles they face in their routine life, but in fact, some of them can be direct signs of identity theft. How to recognize that you have become a victim of the last one?
Your billing address could be changed and you may soon stop receiving the services too.
If you have not applied for any credit or loan, this message can be evidence of identity theft. Moreover, if you have received a loan at higher interest rates, this is a direct sign.
Any notifications a no overdue payments not made by you say that someone has received access to your credit card or bank account and is trying to spend your money in bulk.
Such a message may be a signal of the breached account.
If you can’t get a tax refund you deserve, there might be another person to receive it instead of you earlier.
Identity thieves often ‘test’ stolen credit cards to understand if they are active. It is also time to connect with a bank and block the card immediately.
When your phone stopped working and does not make any calls, don’t hurry to repair it. Someone could block your SIM and even use it to enter your mobile banking app. Experts recommend taking another phone and call your mobile provider to block your ‘second’ SIM card if it is active.
Getting medical bills for the visits you have not made hints that another person could try doing that.
One more popular identity theft type is when a criminal gives the police a driver’s license of another person and accuses this person of a crime. As a result, a stolen driver’s license can lead to severe consequences for a person.
When you turn to the federal authorities for a certain benefit and you are told that you have already applied for it earlier, it is time to stop worrying.
Now when you know what identity theft is, what types of this crime are differentiated and how to recognize it, it is time to ask yourself ‘how can I protect myself from identity theft?’. If you do not want to experience any of the situations mentioned above or face any other unpleasant schemes prepared for you, it is important to protect yourself from identity theft. It is enough to remember 10 simple tips from experts listed below and you can sigh with relief being in safety.
It is important not only to set up passwords as much as possible as well as make them strong enough to avoid guessing or generating them. What is the sense to set up a password if you use a set of numbers from 1 to 9 and everyone can try and guess it? It is important to select strong passwords not only when you visit certain websites and register accounts there but also on mobile devices, computers, safes, etc.
According to the surveys conducted by an Experian study, only 50% of the US residents have passwords on the digital devices they use. Consequently, every second phone lost or stolen opens criminals an access to the book of contacts, personal information, even banking apps if you have any on the mobile device. Some people compare the absence of a password on the mobile device with a door left unlocked when you leave your home. If you do want to keep your identity in security, use strong passwords everywhere. People who have a tendency to forget passwords may use special tools like LastPass, for example.
Nowadays it is very important to keep track of modern technology and software if you want to be fully protected. We got used to accessing websites using Google Chrome and other popular browsers that follow the activity of users and record it for different purposes. Your history of searches and remembered passwords and usernames can be copied by hackers easily if you do not protect your data.
Experts advise using private search engines that do not record user history, prevent accepting cookies, determining the IP address and many other details about a user. Moreover, it is very important to update the software used regularly and use anti-spy and anti-virus programs that can protect you from invasion.
One more great way to protect yourself and data is to order services of identity theft protection companies. They offer to check your credit reporting, identity monitoring, and recovery on a regular basis to determine security breaches if there are any and improve user security level.
If you want to know how to protect bank accounts from identity theft, it is important to stay alert and review your credit card and bank statements regularly. You can check your credit history for any suspicious transactions, request a free copy of the credit record, file for taxes as early as possible for anyone else not to do that. There are also credit monitoring services that can help you to determine any strange transactions or changes made as well as a possibility to set up a fraud alert on credit reports to get a notification if anyone else pulls it. One more way to prevent others to take loans from your name is to freeze credit records and prevent the situation when another person can apply for a loan instead of you.
When it comes to medical fraud, never share your social security number with anyone. It is better not to carry a card with wherever you go and leave it at home to prevent it from being stolen. You should also check your medical insurance regularly visiting the website of the company and ring the bells if you get any strange calls from IRS or your insurance company.
It is not a secret that any malware you install to your device or strange links you follow can open criminals the access to the information stored on it. They can get copies of documents, learn some details, even follow you in real time to learn your behavior and schedule. Therefore, it is important to avoid following any links or setting up software you download from the Internet because the consequences of these actions can be very upsetting.
Moreover, experts recommend encrypting your emails, emptying the mailbox and deleting the search history on a regular basis and logging out all the accounts each time you do not use them.
Public wi-fi networks do not guarantee the security of the data you possess. Scammers can easily capture user sensitive data if he or she accesses the Internet via a free Wi-Fi hotspot in a coffee shop or store. Therefore, avoid using public Wi-Fi if you plan to log in any accounts or check some personal information.
If you have suffered from identity theft or are suspicious that someone is trying to get your personal data, it is necessary to file a report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the website or by phone. You will be asked to describe your situation and will be offered a recovery plan and what actions to undertake. The FTC also advises victims to turn to the police with a copy of the FTC identity theft report, ID, a utility bill to confirm your address and evidence of the crime.
One of the easiest ways to get a lot of personal information about a person is to look through the social media profile. Here you can often find not only a full name, date of birth, city, address, job place but also many other details shared or posted. It is enough to remember photos and videos that can accidentally show very important details and be an attraction for criminals.
Of course, it is necessary to adjust your privacy settings and let only your friends see your posts and shares. Moreover, never add photos of your first or new ID card, credit card or any other document that can be used against you.
Of course, you will make fun of people who let strangers inside and look for how to protect yourself against identity theft. However, haven’t you ever done the same with an occasional appliance repair person or cable TV installer? Unfortunately, thieves can wear different masks and steal your identity in a matter of seconds.
The same goes for calls. You should remember that none of the authorities representatives ever call people and ask for any details of their personal data. You should never share your PIN codes, passwords, credit card numbers etc. Only criminals use phones for this purpose, so if you get such a strange call, don’t doubt and turn to the FTC.
Not only you but also your kids or relatives can accidentally share your personal information with others. It is especially popular on computers and mobile phones: lack of experience in their use can lead to poor consequences. It means that it is better to avoid storing any sensitive data on electronic devices at all and find a safe place for your documents at home too.
If you have become a victim of identity theft, it is important to report this fact to the authorities. As it was already mentioned, it is necessary to turn to the Federal Trade Commission that recommends doing the following:
The FTC also advises to turn to police and file an identity theft report there too.
How do you protect yourself from identity theft? This question interests everyone who has already suffered from this crime and has to deal with the consequences as well as those who do not want to become a victim. This article has focused on the definition of identity theft and its types. Moreover, here you could learn 10 useful tips on how to feel protected and avoid getting into the trap of identity theft if you keep up with modern trends.