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How To Know If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Identity theft is big business for cybercriminals, but a devastating experience for victims. It’s out of control and worse than you think.
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Millions of Americans and people around the world are affected, resulting in billions of dollars in losses each year.
ID fraud is everywhere. Almost every day, we see news reports detailing new techniques for fraudsters to steal your personal information, as well as warnings about massive data breaches exposing your sensitive data to hackers on the Dark Web.
According to Debt.com research from 2021, four out of ten people have been victims of identity theft. Many believe it will never happen to them, and the rise of stolen identities is a cause for concern.
A report released by the Federal Trade Commission in February 2021 found that Americans lost $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. The rate of Americans losing money to fraud is also on the rise, with 34% of fraud reporting incidents in 2020. 23% in 2019 involved financial loss.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
The tactics used in identity theft are evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Because of this, the incidence of identity fraud is at an all-time high. Cybercriminals use both traditional and more sophisticated techniques, depending on their target victims.
Experts believe that because of the increase in theft, someone is victimized every 14 seconds. According to many researches, this rate will rise in 2022, making it an even bigger problem for Americans.
About 49 million people were victims of identity theft in 2020. As a result, traditional identity theft caused $13 billion in losses. Victims can be individuals whose personal information has been compromised due to data breaches and other cyber attacks.
One of the most revealing facts is that direct interaction fraud, such as phishing emails, accounted for a significantly larger loss of $43 billion. This means that bad actors are more daring and willing to steal directly from individuals.
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According to Proof Point, 33% of Americans have experienced identity theft at some point in their lives. This is three times higher than the figures for Germany or France. It is also twice as high as the global average. Respondents in the United States are more open on social media than those in other countries, leaving their information more exposed to cyber thieves.
According to Javelin Research, fraudsters are quick to take over accounts. The company’s 2020 research on identity fraud showed that 40% of account takeovers occur within 24 hours of a criminal gaining access to a victim’s account.
The pandemic has prompted cyber crooks to intensify their theft campaigns. In fact, account takeovers increased by 307% since the start of 2020.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), victims also lost $3.3 billion to fraud that same year. That’s double the amount lost to identity thieves in 2019, which was $1.8 million.
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According to the FTC, credit card fraud is the most common form of identity theft. Identity thieves typically gain access to another user’s registered credit card through a variety of methods. In other cases, they may use the details and name of an unsuspecting user to obtain a new credit card. Many identity criminals conduct small-scale test thefts before committing major fraud.
These and many other statistics show that identity theft will become more prevalent in the twenty-first century. As more data moves from physical paper to digital format, the likelihood of it being stolen increases.
While “malicious outsiders” continue to steal data, users still bear a great deal of responsibility for their lost data. Current patterns show that users still care less about managing their own data security, leaving them vulnerable.
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What Is Personally Identifiable Information (pii)? Types And Examples
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud and other crimes.
Personally identifiable information is information that can be used to identify an individual, either alone or with other related data.
Consumer canes become victims of identity theft through a variety of methods. Fraudsters can steal mail from your mailbox or search through your trash for invoices and bank statements that contain personal data — name, address, etc. Others may steal wallets and purses, or duplicate your credit card through skimming devices. This can sometimes happen when your waiter or clerk walks away to handle your payment.
The first step to protecting yourself from identity theft is to be aware of yourself, so know what to look out for. Early detection of warning signs is key to minimizing exposure or damage from this ever-growing threat.
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Identity theft has evolved from isolated incidents to epidemic levels, courtesy of cyberthieves relentlessly looking for new ways to steal others’ information and money. There are many types that identity theft scammers use, and we’ll describe the most common ones.
This happens when criminals gain illegal access to your bank, loan or credit accounts. Once criminals have enough personally identifiable information about you, they can do a lot of financial damage.
Thieves can create new accounts fraudulently. They can open new bank, loan or credit card accounts in your name. They can charge you fake fees using your good credit history.
A thief can use your information to take equity in your home through a fake line of credit (HELOC) or refinanced mortgage.
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Criminals can also use your financial information to get fake loans or credit in your name.
A thief can make fraudulent transactions online even if they don’t have your physical credit card. They can use your credit card details to produce a “cloned” version.
Tax identity fraud occurs when a fraudster files a false tax return in your name. They will almost certainly report false income and try to get huge tax refunds from the IRS that belong to you. It’s good practice to hire only reputable bookkeepers and accountants, because “ghost” tax preparers are out to scam you.
Medical identity theft occurs when criminals use your personal information to obtain medical services in your name. They can buy prescription drugs without your permission or use your health insurance benefits. It is one of the most expensive forms of identity theft.
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For example, a thief can pretend to be you and get surgery or other medical care using your stolen health plan information. You won’t find out until you get a bill in the mail. Worse, the bogus treatment is permanently recorded in your medical records. This can lead to a misdiagnosis or loss of critical medical care.
Children’s SSNs have been prime targets for identity theft in recent years because they are clean. Criminals take the identity of a child and apply for loans in the child’s name. It is often only discovered when the victim applies for student loans or other loans.
If your child receives credit card offers or phone calls about late payments or debt collection, it’s time to investigate.
Some criminals use your identity to apply for jobs, especially if they want to avoid background checks or are unable to legally work in the United States.
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This may seem less harmful. However, having confusing employment records can cause problems with your credit, Social Security benefits, and taxes. Also, if the fraudster faces legal problems, you may face an arrest warrant.
If someone takes your driver’s license and uses it to commit a crime, you can be arrested. As a result, you are responsible for that thief’s crimes.
You may be detained by a police officer for a crime you did not commit. Or you could be denied a job or a promotion because of something negative found in your background check.
Consumers of all ages reported similar incidents of crime in previous years. Today’s statistics present a different situation. Consumers ages 40 to 69 report higher rates of identity theft, indicating greater vulnerability to this type of threat.
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Seniors are often less tech-savvy and more vulnerable to online phishing and phone scams than younger people.
While the numbers for seniors may be significantly higher, an AARP poll showed that victims 55 and older were significantly less likely to admit to being scammed. Tax identity theft and medical ID fraud are two common scams perpetrated by nursing homes and long-term care providers.
Thieves often have bad credit history. That’s why they specifically target kids because they can use their social security numbers to create a clean credit profile. Family members are often criminals because they have access to a child’s social security number.
Students are particularly vulnerable to identity theft for a variety of reasons. They are inexperienced with money and rarely look into their day-to-day transactions. Many parents
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