When we think of theft we think of a criminal, often in the dead of night, sneakily taking our possessions. The car from the drive, smashing a window and grabbing some other possessions; laptops, tablets, mobile phones. If it has some sort of value it is at risk. We do our utmost to protect our items. We lock our houses and cars. We take out insurance but what about ourselves?
The rate of identity theft has risen dramatically in recent years. It has become rife in the digital age. Identity theft occurs when someone deliberately uses another person’s identity without their knowledge or permission. It is usually done for some sort of financial gain or other personal benefit. The person who has had their identity taken will usually suffer some sort of consequences.
Types of identity theft
Common types of identity theft include social security identity thefts where the victim’s social security number is sold to undocumented persons or used fraudulently, financial identity theft such as taking credit card details (skimming) or using another person’s details to apply for credit or using a person’s identity when involved in criminal activity.
How do you know if your identity has been stolen?
Identity theft can easily go unnoticed. There are some tell-tale signs that should act as red flags that a theft has occurred.
If you notice any odd transactions on your bank statement this may indicated a financial identity theft.
Discrepancies on a credit report or if you are refused on a loan application may indicated something on your record that doesn’t add up.
Not receiving bills or mail that you used to or receiving notifications or calls from IRS or other creditors looking for you.
What to do if you are the victim of identity theft
If you notice any of the above and suspect your identity has been stolen immediately report it your policy authority as you would any other theft. You can also file an identity theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission.
In the case of financial identity theft place a fraud alert on any credit reports and alert the relevant institutions immediately.
If you suspect your social security number has been compromised contact the IRS to report it and if you suspect your address is being miss-used contact your post office.
How to protect yourself against identity theft
The best way to deal with identity theft is to avoid it all together.
Protect your social security number and do not carry it around in a wallet. Make sure to use secure and complex passwords and take care when shopping or doing any online business that the appropriate security measures and encryption are in place.
Do not click on any unknown links or attachments in messages or E-mails and finally set up credit monitoring to ensure that your credit reports are not being misused.