How to Protect Yourself against Identity Theft. Many people fallen into the hand of scammers, Their Identity are disclosed and they can not have control over their own identity. Due to this many people are searching for How to Protect themselves against Identity Theft. Unfortunately, identity theft is no more fiction or something that occurs in movies like ‘Face Off’ and ‘Taking Lives,’ and many others.
How to Protect Yourself against Identity Theft
It is a very real and tangible threat that is lurking around the corner to strike people. Identity theft threatens all ordinary Americans and the world at large every day.
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Do Yo Know What Happens in Identity Fraud?
- Are you getting bills for stuff you never bought on credit card? Is money vanishing from your bank account for no apparent reason?
- Do you get calls or visits from recovery agencies for loans you never took? Or has your credit rating taken a sound beating without any cause?
- Does someone call you claiming to be taxmen? Maybe you have been denied medical treatment because someone else took benefits on your Medicare.
If these things are happening, you could be among those millions of Americans that are victims of identity theft or identity fraud. Does this scare you? If it does, continue reading.
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Having an Understanding of Identity Theft
Identity theft and identity fraud is defined as all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses your personal data without your permission.
Usually, the identity thief wants to steal your money in some way by using your good name and credit, warns the US Department of Justice.
But that is not all. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the US, with more than 10 million Americans falling victims every year, says Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Unfortunately, most Americans do not take identity theft and identity fraud very seriously. Just about one percent of identity theft victims actually report the crime to police and various government agencies, according to reports.
Not because it involves any hassles. Americans are complacent that identity thieves cannot cause them any harm.
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Types of Identity Theft/ Identity Fraud
There are various types of identity thefts and frauds that may affect you.
- Using your medical records and Medicare insurance to get free treatment and medicines by using your identity.
- Fraudulently opening a bank account using your identity and other personal details.
- Using your good credit scores to get another credit card or loans without your knowledge.
- Making online purchases using credit card or debit card and net banking details fraudulently.
- Data breaches that occur when you use a public computer to make online payments or conduct financial transactions.
- Filing for tax returns with Internal Revenue Service in your name and by using your Social Security number.
- Travel Document theft while visiting a foreign country. The passport can be altered and used by terrorists and drug smugglers, among other criminals.
How Serious Identity Theft is
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In 2017, over 16.7 million consumers in the US above 16 years age fell victim to identity theft and identity fraud, says an independent study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, a reputed advisory company.
This figure represents an increase of eight percent or 1.3 million fresh victims of identity theft and identity fraud in 2017 over those reported 2016.
Also in 2017, whopping US$16.8 billion were stolen from American public through identity theft and fraud.
On average, an American lost US$290 in out-of-pocket expenses due to Account Takeovers (ATOs) caused by identity theft. ATOs means when fraudsters take over your bank account. Americans also spent over 15 hours of man-hours to resolve the fraud.
Over 81 percent of identity thefts occurred due to online shopping, especially in cases when a credit card or debit card was not even present with the fraudster.
More than 1.5 million Americans whose accounts were taken over by identity thieves also found that new, fraudulent intermediary accounts had been opened in their names.
This shows an increase of over 200 percent in number of bank accounts being opened in other’s names.
Identity Theft on the Increase
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Identity thieves are also getting more sophisticated, warns Javelin Strategy & Research.
Since credit cards and debit cards from Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) are now embedded with machine-readable chips, identity thieves and fraudsters are now targeting online shoppers increasingly, the report further adds.
These figures means you should take identity theft very seriously and take steps to ensure safety of your personal and financial data.
Remember, even children are not spared by identity thieves. There are cases where children as young as 12 years have had identity stolen.
International Implications of Identity Theft
Your stolen identity also has severe implications abroad. International Police Organization or Interpol warns that stolen identity can be used to make passports and other travel documents in your name.
Terrorists and drug smugglers can use your stolen passport to enter countries where immigration authorities do not use sophisticated methods to detect altered travel documents.
There is a flourishing black market of stolen passports in certain countries.
Also, stolen or lost passports are used by identity thieves to get access to your personal financial information. Worse if you lose credit cards and debit cards while traveling abroad.
You can freeze your cards and prevent unlawful use. But the thief already learns about banks you use and your Social Security number, among other details.
Steps to Identity Theft Protection
Various organizations of the US government have specific details on how identity theft occurs.
- Shoulder Surfing: Identity thieves watch you while keying in credit card/ debit card numbers on your smartphone while you are buying something online or making payment in public places.
- Bank Correspondence: If you throw away credit card pre-approval mail, bank statements, credit card bills, and similar mail without shredding or destroying, fraudsters can use its details to steal your identity.
- Public Computers: Shopping online from public computers at a cyber café can lead to identity theft: it may contain software that records your personal details including credit card or debit card number and personal data.
- Discarded ATM Slips: Never throw away an ATM transaction slip intact: it can be exploited by identity thieves to steal personal data.
- Social Security Number: Be very careful while giving your Social Security number on phone or email: it can be overheard and used to steal your identity.
- Responding to Spam: If you respond to those attractive offers that land in your email box and give your personal details, they are likely to fall into the hands of scammers.
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