What is Identity Theft?
When someone steals your private information and uses it without your permission against you it is termed ‘Identity Theft’.
The advancement of technology and the internet always has exposed a great threat to your private information. One must carefully monitor before the damage is beyond repair. Different high-tech methods are used by thieves to access corporate databases to hack customer information. Once identity thieves obtain the information, they can ruin a person’s credit rating and other personal information, credit finances, thereby damaging a person’s reputation. Often the private information like Aadhar Card details, PAN Card details, Bank Account number, credit card information, etc. is used to create a new account, commit fraud, make a purchase, or for any other reason.
The modern methods used by identity thieves involve the use of computer technology. Fraudsters commit the crime of identity theft by:
- Searching hard drives of stolen or discarded computers
- Hacking into computers or computer servers
- Gaining access to computer-maintained public records
- Phishing and spam attacks
- Unsecure browsing social networking sites
- Using malicious Malware software
- Hacking wi-fi system
There are many kinds of identity theft that include
- Financial Identity Theft
In Financial Identity theft, another person’s identity is used by someone else to obtain goods, services, credit, or other benefits.
- Medical Identity Theft
In Medical Identity theft, someone else poses to be another person just to get the medical benefits for free.
- Child Identity theft
The identity of the child is stolen and used for different forms of personal gain to obtain residence. The misuse can also be done for many purposes, which include finding employment, procuring loans, and, in some cases, avoiding arrest on warrants issued against him. It is observed that in these cases the fraudster is often a family member or belongs to the friends’ circle of the family. Sometimes even a deceased person’s information is stolen and put to use for various gains.
- Synthetic identity theft
When a criminal combines the real and fake information to create a different identity which is used to open fake accounts and make fraudulent purchases. In Synthetic theft, it is easy for a criminal to steal money from any credit card company or lender.
- Criminal Identity theft
In Criminal Identity theft, the criminal poses as a different person to avoid summons, arrest, conviction record, or prevent warrant being issued in their real name.
Once the thief manages to access your private information, they can do many things with it such as opening fraudulent credit cards, file fake insurance claims, use the bank or credit card account to make unauthorized purchases, selling that information to other thieves, file a fraudulent tax returns, claim money off your tax refunds, accessing financial accounts, stealing money, etc.
These, obviously result in immediate financial loss, credit damage, and emotional torture. Depending upon the intensity of the crime, it may take a couple of days to months to resolve the issue. It may even take many years to resolve the issue in extreme cases.
The victim may lose account access and maybe in a dire need of professional assistance to disentangle.
Among many forms of identity theft, the most common is ‘Financial Identity Theft’.
Unfortunately, victims realize this much later when they begin to receive a call from creditors or are turned down a loan due to poor credit scores.
How to Recognize Signs of Identity Theft?
One has to be alert and keep a periodic check on all the documents and reports necessary to detect something mysterious or fishy. Here are some red flags to recognize ‘Identity theft’ of your personal information.
- Unusual changes in credit score:
When your identity is used by the thief to approve a loan or purchase in your name, it would affect your credit score. If you notice any unusual change in the credit score even you are not involved in it, that is a warning bell of identity theft.
- Billed for strange medical expenses:
When the thief misuses the identity to make fraudulent insurance claims, you will receive insurance statements for medical treatment, healthcare procedures, and conditions that you haven’t even applied for. One must be on the lookout to detect any such medical expenses for the services they never hired.
- Dubious activity on financial records:
If you happen to find out a strange loan application on your credit report, it is time to be on high alert. If you come across any purchases or transactions, you never made, in the credit report, you may be a victim. The financial providers must be contacted immediately if some of the statements on financial records are fishy or have an element of surprise in the transactions.
- Tax Refund Denied:
You will have another reason to doubt if your tax refunds are denied. That is because the thief might have claimed your money and tax paperwork has already been filed by using your identity. You must take this matter to a higher authority.
- Health coverage denied:
When identity theft infiltrates with your records to commit fraud, your medical reports show the payment for health issues you never had. If your medical records mention a condition that you never experienced, there is a huge possibility of identity theft. If you are being rejected despite having a legitimate claim, the reason may be infiltration with your records to commit fraud.
- Denial for a credit/Loan:
If you are denied a loan or credit despite being worthy, eligible, and qualified, there is room for doubt about ‘Identity Theft’. However, this needs a proper check as identity theft may not be the sole reason for the denial of credit or loan. Before arriving at this conclusion, make sure that all other possibilities are ruled out.
- Harassment by debt collectors:
If debt collectors and collection agencies start calling you, visiting you for demanding to return their money for the loan you haven’t availed of, you know why! It is the identity thief that is using your credit card and you are the one left answerable to make payments. The debt collectors expect you to settle their debts. It is a wake-up call!!
- Login alerts:
Login alerts happen, when your account is being accessed using a different device, websites and apps may send you notifications regarding the same. When you know that you are not the one accessing it and an unfamiliar source is at play, your name and password must have been hacked. This is a red flag that you are at risk.
- Inability to access your Apple ID:
Apple ID Phishing scams are on the rise. Your account has all the personal information which inter alia includes, contact details, payment details, information of service access security, etc. If you get a mail, text message, or phone call, it is time to be alert.
- Falling off a prospective job opportunity:
When your career opportunity is denied by the employer after running a credit check on you and has decided not to make an offer, that might be a warning bell for you.
The identity thieve may cause havoc in your life and it is not just restricted to a new credit card in your name.
Once you find your data exposed to a threat, you must, without further ado, report the identity theft. The steps must be taken to change all your account passwords and cancel or block credit and bank cards. These are the primary defense against any identity fraud committed in your name.
Ways to protect yourself from Identity Theft?
Protecting private information completely without any risk of any kind of breakdown is a bit of a challenge in these times. However, some precautions can be undertaken to protect yourself from becoming an identity theft victim. Identity theft protection is unavoidable in modern times.
- Protect your credit from harm
It is very essential to freeze your credit and unfreeze when you wish to open an account. This will provide much-needed identity theft protection against a fraudster who may use your data to open a new account.
- Protect your PAN and Aadhar Card Number:
Your Aadhar Card Number and PAN card number is a key to your personal information. Keep it guarded. Do not just give your number when asked without confirming why it is needed in the first place and what measures are applied to protect the same from any misuse. Securing paperwork containing your identification numbers is one of the identity theft protection measures.
- Strong passwords and authentication:
When setting a password, make sure it’s unique and strong. Don’t forget to add an authentication app to reduce your risk.
- Social Media Posts:
Be careful and mindful when it comes to posting on Social Media. You may unintentionally end up giving clues, data, or any vital information about you that may be used by the fraudster against you. Be aware!!!
- Stay alert to phishing and spoofing:
Scammers are masters of deception and can make it look like the phone calls you receive are coming from government authorities or businesses. The E-mails that appear to be legitimate, prima facie, may be attempts to steal your data. Don’t respond to calls or e-mails. Be cautious about attachments as these may be malicious malware software in disguise.
- Set alerts:
Many financial institutions won’t do any transactions before getting a confirmation from you via text or e-mail. It is prudent to sign up for such a facility to find out when and where your credit cards are used, so when there are any suspicious withdrawals or deposits from your financial accounts, it becomes easy to detect and protect against identity theft.
- Keep shredding!
Any credit card, investment statements, or any paperwork in connection with the same could be misused if found in the garbage. Hence, it is important to shred them before throwing them away.
- Protect your phones:
You must protect your phone and set strong passwords. Rather than using a mobile browser, use the appropriate app. This is a mandatory identity theft protection measure.
- Checking credit reports regularly:
Regular and periodical checking of credit reports leads to detect any irregularity or any signs of fraud. Constant vigilance is the best identity theft protection.
Measures to implement if you are a Victim of Identity Theft:
Here is what you can do if you are an identity theft victim:
- Freeze your credit immediately:
Initiating a credit freeze will completely cut off access to your credit report. This will prevent credit bureaus from sharing yours with anyone who requests it. Contact the bureau and request them to freeze your credit.
- Identity Theft Protection Plan:
If you have subscribed to an identity theft protection plan, your provider will help you to guide you through it. But if you haven’t purchased the coverage, you must contact insurance companies or the human resources department.
- Notification to Companies about the Theft:
Immediately notify companies when fraudulent transactions have been found to occur. You must call them immediately to notify them about the wrongdoings so they are alert. All you have to do is simply call up the card issuer in this case so that you may be able to save your personal information from the thief.
- Contact your local police
The next move is to file a complaint in the local police department without any delay. Local Police may not be able to track fraudsters, who are committing fraud online or overseas. But it may be possible to detect and track down someone who is stealing information locally.
- Tighten Security of Credit
Tighten the security of credit by setting strong passwords, which are not easy to crack to save yourself from any identity theft in the future.
How can we help you with Theft Protection Solutions?
At Credit Bazaar, we have introduced two ‘Identity Theft Protection Plans’ namely Aura and Iconia. ID Monitor’s algorithms are constantly protecting your data from a range of potential threats.
We update you on regular basis. The dashboard highlights current online risks. We also offer you facilities like Public Web & Dark Web Monitoring. You are provided with the identity theft cover, monthly credit reports and, trend analysis.
Credit Bazaar is your one-stop solution for all your credit worries. We will continue to deliver the best services to our clients who will choose us. Our customers admire and appreciate our quality work! Choose Credit Bazaar to get identity theft protection at reasonable prices,today!!