Defining Identity Theft
When someone uses another person’s personal information to commit fraud or any other criminal offense, that person is guilty of committing identity theft. The personal information can include name, social security number, driver’s license number, or other identity sources. Unfortunately, identity theft is a very easy crime to commit and often happens without the person immediately realizing that they are being impersonated.
How to Detect Signs of Identity Theft and Fraud?
- If your child is receiving mail that is usually addressed to adults, such as pre-approved credit cards or other financial offers, he or she might be a victim of child identity theft.
- When you are attempting to open a financial account for your child only to discover there is already one available or the application is not approved because of poor credit on your child’s name, it may be a sign of child identity theft.
- Suppose there is already a credit report in your child’s name. In that case, he or she may have already been targeted for identity theft because a consumer credit report only exists after someone applies for credit.
- Another sign of identity theft is when your credit score is lower than usual.
- If you were denied credit or have been approved with an extremely high-interest rate.
- The information on your credit report does not match up.
- You start receiving calls or letters from collection agencies about accounts you didn’t even know of.
- Credit cards for which you did not apply are mailed to you.
- You stop receivingthe mail you were expecting, such as bills, letters, credit card renewals, etc.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Thieves use several methods to commit identity theft and fraud. These include:
- Going through dumpsters – also referred to as “dumpster diving” in an effort to find any sort of personal information
- Stealing of mail
- Retrieving debit or credit card numbers through the use of a data storage device – also known as “skimming.”
- Posing as a legitimate company in order to gain access to a victim’s personal information. This is commonly referred to as”phishing” and is an internet identity theft, butit can occur over the telephone as well
- Impersonating a landlord or employer in order to obtain access to a person’s credit report
- Robbing hard copy or electronic business records
- Applying for a change of address to divert your mail to another location
- Rerouting victims to a copycat website when they type legitimate banking or credit card information, this is commonly referred to as ”pharming.”
Understanding the Types of Identity Theft
Even though most people think of financial identity theft,we all need to be aware of many other types of identity theft. These types of identity theft include:
- Financial Identity Theft: This is the most common and easiest type of identity theft for the average person to understand.It involves the theft of personal information that thieves use for personal or material gain.
- Medical Identity Theft:This type of identity theft happens when someone uses the identity of another person to obtain medical treatment. This is a very serious act and can possibly be fatal to the person whose information is compromised.
- Criminal Identity Theft: This happens when another person uses your name when they are arrested, resulting in a criminal record under your name for a crime you didn’t commit.
- ID. Card Identity Theft: This happens when another person uses your driver’s license, ID card, or any other ID to apply for a social security number, credit card, or other financial items in your name.
- Social Security Identity Theft: In this case, someone steals another person’s social security card to report earnings and skip payingtaxes.
- Synthetic Identity Theft: As the latest entry into the market, this kind of ID theft occurs when a thief takes bits of information from several people and actually creates an entirely new identity.
- Child Identity Theft: This is an increasingly common type of ID theft thatusually involves a relative or friend who steals the social security number of a child in order to obtain credit. The thief usually gets awaywith this as parents are reluctant to report the crime or do not notice it until many years later.