Identity Theft

Identity Theft: How Does it Happen and How Do You Prevent It?

While you’re busy reading this sentence, someone somewhere in the world is busy stealing another’s identity to commit fraud with it. And another one is busy struggling to restore their reputation and credit score, thanks to a thief who stole their identity, and committed a scam with it. Also, the saying, “you need to see to believe it”, no longer applies.

Accordingly, the rise of scam, and fake voice increase has only made it more and more hard to distinguish between what is not, and what is real. Also, it is no longer only about political campaigns, or posts from the social platforms that are affected by scam, today scam is also being used in the current day identity theft.

And while it may as well sound to others like fantasy, or a comedy, this classy tech fraud has real life consequences. The wake of this targeted, and enormously personal attack is a clear warning for everyone. So, we have put together comprehensive info to give you a better understanding about this personal data breach thing.

What is Identity Theft?

Just like it is defined by McAfee among others, identity theft is simply when a criminal steals a person’s identity, or their personal information to commit fraud. This data may include your bank account details, social security number, credit card info, or some other online-based login data.

Likewise, while thieves are often taking advantage of modern-day technology, and using it tactfully to steal other’s identities, on a global scale, some people are already getting better at distinguishing potential identity theft, and how to minimise the impacts.

Still, we believe that it is by far, better to prevent scam from happening in the first place. You can secure your personal information when you are online, at home, or while on-the-go to curb the chances of identity theft from happening.

What are the Effects of Identity Theft?

Firstly, identity theft can damage your finances in various ways. As such, this fraudulent act can impact your long-term finances, and your everyday life. Second, should you happen to be the victim of a data breach, below are some consequences you’re likely to face as you try to gain control of the situation.

  1. Financial Loss Effects

In some instances, it is pretty much possible to experience a financial loss if let’s say, a thief gets hold of your personal information, and uses it to access and steal your money. With your logins or account details at hand, it is easier for a criminal to transfer your funds elsewhere.

  1. Account Loss Effects

Once a criminal has accessed your financial accounts, you are left without a choice but to go through the hustle of cancelling an exposed account, and opening a new one.

Also, while this may only seem less traumatic compared to other consequences, this is still an undesirable inconvenience in an already tense moment.

  1. Privacy Loss Effects

Although you might have just made the stolen accounts shut, created a new account, or changed your password, your personal information is still exposed somewhere in public, and possibly, on a global level.

  1. Credit Score Effects

One of the most devastating impacts that can be caused by identity theft is how it hits your credit score. Example, if a thief gets your credit card number and buys with it or, they open a credit card, and spend in your name on credit or, let’s say they apply for a loan, in your name, your credit score certainly takes the bigger impact. If this is your case, opting for credit monitoring services can help get the score back up.

  1. Energy and Time Effects

Firstly, it is always energy draining, and time consuming to report an identity theft, or freeze or cancel affected accounts, or even to work with the bureaus of credit to fix a fraud mess among other things.

Also, while you can still fully restore your name, and good reputation as well as recover from any financial losses, it may still take a heck of an effort to get these things done.

What are the Types of Identity Theft?

There are a dozen ways criminals can steal, and use your identity. Be sure to check the below list of a few common types of identity fraud to stay in the know.

  1. Synthetic Identity Stealing

This type of theft involves stealing someone’s Social Security Number, and attempting to create a different person from it.

Further, this act is possible because once someone has your Social Security Number, they can proceed to attach it to a new name, a different date of birth, and some other personal information which is essentially needed to make a whole new person from your identity.

  1. New Account Theft

Once you have experienced a data breach, and your personal data has been stolen, the culprit can always use this info to get services, or products they are desiring, thanks to your good credit standings. Also, opening new credit card accounts, or cell phones, for example, are all ordinary methods of account theft.

  1. Financial Identity Fraud

This is the most ordinary identity fraud you are certainly already aware of. It involves criminals stealing your credit card details, or hacking your bank account to steal your funds.

  1. Child Identity Theft

Here’s one very sneaky type of fraud.__ Child identity theft__ usually goes unnoticed for several years, if not, decades. Because it is not very common to find a parent who takes their time, or sits around to check their child’s credit score. Checking these things are often not on our daily schedules.

Therefore, identity thieves are always looking to steal a child’s Social Security Number to use that info to make a new credit card, or open some other types of accounts, of course, to commit a scam with it.

5.__ Medical Identity Theft__ Health insurance is often a target for identity criminals, thanks to the benefits. Also, a thief can steal your medical identity, or health insurance info, and use it to pay for their medical treatments or procedures, or even buy drugs.

Equally, if this type of theft has been executed successfully, it can result in enormous entries being put into your medical records which may certainly lead to unfortunate, and possibly a tough life-threatening decision made by health staff themselves.

A Look at How Identity Fraud Can Happen

There are a dozen ways criminals can steal someone’s identity. And for the sake of your best knowledge, we have listed down some ordinary ways identity fraud can happen. See below to stay informed.

Lost credit card. Apart from getting your account logins, or credit card info from the internet, stealing your wallet is also another very common way a thief can get hold of your personal details.

Lost Device. If let’s say your computer, or mobile device has been stolen, the thief can hack into the device, and acquire any details they want. And if let’s assume identity theft isn’t the case, then you are still left without the convenience of having your precious things with you.

Web hacking. Cybercriminals will often use their digital-savvy abilities to hack their way into the websites in which your personal details are stored.

So, it is always extremely necessary to add another layer of device, or browser security to secure all your online activities, and prevent your personal data from leaking somewhere in public. Perhaps, this is also where a new technology browser protection tool like Guardio, comes handy.

Malware. Talking about malware or other sneaky malicious programs, a computer virus can allow a criminal to gain access to your personal details from your infected device. Again, adding an extra layer of a modern-tech security extension is key to protecting your privacy from spyware, and other sneaky cybercrimes.

Spam emails or phishing scams. Hackers will often attempt to lure you into sharing your personal data with them through phishing scams, or spam emails. They do this by mimicking official messages from well-known sources, or your employer, and ask for your details.

Accordingly, if you are not aware, you may end up giving up your personal details to the thief. Some of the deals often tend to be only too good to overlook which is why many fall victims of this scam. Data breach. There are certain times when your personal info can be leaked far beyond the personal level. Also, this data breach thing involves the releasing or leaking of a dozen personal information of several people to hackers who might then use it to commit a scam.

Dark web. You probably must have heard about this term before. The dark web is the place where an identity thief will most likely take your personal details after stealing it. This info is then sold, or shared with potential prospects, all in the name of making the dollar from your name, and financial data.

Warning Signs Your Identity Have Been Stolen

Regardless of how smart the internet geeks, or identity criminals might be, there are certain pitfalls they cannot evade. One of the following giveaways can tell if you are the unfortunate target of identity theft.

1.__ Your mailbox is empty?__ If let’s say you have been expecting a new credit card, or a bank statement, or some other sorts of bills that never came, chances are, a thief might already have them.

  1. Your mailbox is full? Conversely, whenever you start receiving suspicious bills, or subscriptions, or anything else that is typically unexplained, that’s a clear sign you are a victim of identity fraud.
  2. Your bank statement is not adding up?__ It is always critical to keep a sharp eye on your bank statement. But if there are charges or withdrawals you are obviously not aware of, take action.
  3. You are part of data breach fraud? If you hear from an organisation that your data is breached, expect that your personal information is in the hands of a thief.
  4. Your credit card report has suddenly changed? From the report, if your credit score drops unexpectedly, or if it is showing a credit check you don’t know anything about, that is a red flag.

If you keep an eye on these few red flags, you can act fast to restore your good name. be sure to report any fraud attempts quickly, and restore your finances, all the while, hoping for less damage, or consequences.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Identity Theft?

There are ways you can protect yourself from becoming a potential target for criminals. Also, in addition to keeping a sharp eye on your credit card reports, financial statements, or the mailbox—you can safeguard your most sensitive data, and keep them away from potential culprits.

For example, you can, sparingly, use your SSN—and always try to avoid keeping your credit cards in the wallet. Also, it is always very important to take some time to destroy, or shred your outdated personal details such as the bills, old receipts, credit card offers, or bank statements.

Criminals just seem to not have certain limits. As such, be sure to snip your old cards too. Because anywhere in the world, a thief is always more than willing to search the garbage to get that info.

Accordingly, you can as well take advantage of the new tech security features. With that said, always ensure to lock your phone, download the latest firewall program, use browser protection tools (there’s a free version of Guardio you can opt for to improve your device, or browser security), and always be very keen whenever you are adding security questions, or creating new passwords.

In addition, while many people are often tempted to recycle old passwords or, use the easiest to remember, security questions, like “what is your mother’s maiden name?” or “what is your hometown?”, avoid this if you can. Because if let’s say a hacker finally hacks, and gets this info from one of your accounts—your finances among other things could be left in a total mess.

Accordingly, you need to always be very vigilant, and extremely smart whenever it comes to your privacy protection. Also, a smarter move often begins with a single mouse click. And it is as easy as joining the other 700k plus Guardio users to get the most out of the new tech-age browser protection, and live a healthier internet life, free from identity theft, and other cybersecurity concerns.

What Do I Do When My Identity Has Been Stolen?

If someone steals your identity, it will certainly take more than just a simple phone call to solve the problem. Regardless, the first step to take is to report the matter to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) by filing a report at their website “IdentityTheft.gov”, or calling (1- 877 -438 -4338) and explaining yourself.

Equally, the Federal Trade Commission website will often take you through the process of recovering your lost identity, and track the whole progress. Second, once you have filed your report with the FTC, consider reviewing your credit card report, and notify the bureaus about the issue to update your status to a seven-year fraud alert.

Afterwards, it is also important that you inform your credit card issuers, and all your lenders about where you are holding an account. But it also helps to inform your state, or federal government agencies about the matter. Lastly, you should keep an eye on your credit report to ensure no suspicious activities are happening.

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Lawana Crosiar

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Apr 26, 2020

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Jim Capillo

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May 29, 2020

Old Chromebook With Outdated Virus Protection

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