When you think about identity theft, you might remember the time some crook got a hold of your aunt’s bank account info and used her credit card number to buy all sorts of stuff.
While this is a form of identity theft, it is really just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, there are several different types of this crime.
To help prevent identity theft of any kind from happening to you and yours, it is important to get acquainted with the different types as well as tips on how to avoid it.
Instead of merely being satisfied with a stolen bank account number or credit card, some criminals take it to the next level by essentially assuming your entire identity. As LifeLock notes, identity cloning involves someone else using your full name, making major purchases with your credit card number and taking out loans as you — which often leads to tons of debt piling up in your good name and your credit history becoming destroyed. Crooks may also target deceased people for this type of identity theft, as it may be more difficult for others to realize and trace.
Medical Identity Theft
According to The Balance, medical identity theft is when someone uses your name, insurance information, Social Security number (SSN) and other personal data to access medical care, medication, health insurance coverage or your medical records.
Tax Identity Theft
If you own a small business, criminals may try to access your company’s Employer Identification Number to get a tax refund — or they may try to use your SSN for the same purpose. This type of crime can often go undetected for a while until the IRS figures it out and you receive a letter from them, or you may find that you cannot file your taxes because the IRS is saying you already did.
Employee Identity Theft
People who have a significant criminal history may not be able to get hired for work. To help them obtain a job, they may think nothing of stealing your name and personal information. As the Michigan Department of Treasury notes, you may find out about this type of identity theft when you get a 1099 or W-2 from an employer you have never worked for.
Children Identity Theft
This type of identity theft involves stealing a child’s SSN and then using it to help get a loan, utilities, government assistance and other things. Similar to stealing the identity of the deceased, the thieves bank on the notion that no one will notice that a 7-year-old’s SSN has been compromised until it is too late.
What to Do If You’ve Been Victimized
The best way to help prevent identity theft of any kind is to invest in a protection program that will monitor your data, and your family’s data, round the clock. When you sign up for the program, include your toddler’s SSN as well as your late dad’s; this way, you will immediately be alerted if and when any SSN or other personal information has been used.
In addition, it is a good idea to research how to know about and prevent the specific types of identity theft mentioned above, as well as other types that are out there. For instance, in the case of identity cloning, be aware of the warning signs like multiple addresses in your name, false accounts and charges on your credit report. To stop medical identity theft in its tracks, review your insurance benefits and medical records very carefully for items and conditions you do not recognize; for tax identity theft, work with your accountant and contact the IRS for guidance.
If someone has stolen your identity to get a job, contact the employer that has issued you the tax documents immediately. For child identity theft and as a general rule of thumb, keep Social Security numbers under lock and key, and teach your kids to never reveal this type of information online.
Be Aware, Be Vigilant, Stay Safe
As is the case with many things in life, when it comes to preventing identity theft, knowledge is power. By getting to know the various types of identity theft, you will be more vigilant and know what to monitor on a regular basis. And by investing in an identity protection plan and being extra careful with your information, you can rest assured you are doing all you can to prevent any type of identity theft from happening to you.
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