Are you the latest victim of identity theft? How can you be sure?

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Are you the latest victim of identity theft? How can you be sure?

According to the consumer watchdog FTC, every year over 9 million people have had their identity stolen. If you’re not careful, an identity thief can use your personal information for running up charges on your credit cards or draining your bank account.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft or identity fraud is a criminal offense where an imposter steals personal or financial information of a person with the primary objective of using it for making large purchases.

Usually, the identity thief uses that information for obtaining a credit card or making a large purchase in the name of the victim. The identity thief can also indulge in criminal activities and leave arrest warrants in the name of the victim. In most cases, the victim of identity theft incurs a huge amount of debt if proper action is not taken on time.

8 Types of identity theft

  1. Financial Identity Theft
  2. Synthetic Identity theft
  3. Criminal Identity Theft
  4. Insurance Identity Theft
  5. Driver's License Identity Theft
  6. Medical Identity Theft
  7. Tax Identity Theft
  8. Child Identity Theft

# Other types of identity theft

  • Government benefits fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Phone fraud

# The financial consequences of id fraud

  • Victims of id theft have to take out a personal loan from friends and family.
  • Victims of id theft have to take a break from work.
  • Victims of id fraud have to opt for a payday loan.
  • Some victims of identity theft have to sell their assets.
  • Some victims have to settle debts with debt collectors.

# The emotional impact of id fraud

The emotional impact of id fraud is immense. A victim of identity theft can feel a sense of helplessness. Some victims of identity theft feel annoyed, distressed, and suicidal. Some of them get severely depressed due to the misuse of information. They consult a doctor or a therapist for getting some kind of therapy or counseling.

18 Signs that tell you’re a victim of identity theft

Certain signs indicate that you’re a victim of identity theft. Here are a few of them.

  1. You’re charged for the items you never purchased in your life on your credit card bill statements. Read: When should you dispute credit card charges and how?
  2. You see small charges on your credit card statements. Usually, identity thieves do this to check if your account is active. They make large purchases afterward.
  3. You don’t receive any bills. This happens when somebody has changed your mailing address.
  4. You see accounts on your credit report that you’re not aware of.
  5. Your credit card application is rejected. The catch is, you didn’t apply for any credit card recently. Know more about credit card fraud.
  6. You don’t receive your tax refund.
  7. Your credit card application gets rejected in spite of having an excellent credit history.
  8. You receive debt collection calls for the bills you have been paying on time.
  9. The IRS doesn’t accept your income tax return since it has already been filed. This indicates that somebody has stolen your SSN and filed a return in your name.
  10. You receive a PIN or reset code that you didn’t request for. Somebody has tried to access your accounts.
  11. You receive a tax refund in the mail even before filing income tax returns. If an identity thief has your mail access details, then he would obviously try to intercept a check that you were not expecting.
  12. You haven’t applied for credit cards recently but there are hard inquiries on your credit report. Usually, hard inquiries are listed on your credit report when you apply for a credit card. This means someone has applied for credit cards in your name.
  13. Unknown addresses are listed on your credit report for places you’ve never visited or lived.
  14. You receive mailers and catalogs for expensive items. Companies are probably contacting you because somebody has bought a costly item using your identity.
  15. Your employer notifies you about a data breach. If you have left job recently, the identity thief may try to file for unemployment benefits in your name.
  16. Merchants reject your checks.
  17. Health care service providers charge you for the services you didn’t use.
  18. Your health plan rejects your claim because the records reveal that you have received all the benefits already.

Identity theft statistics - Data breaches in the last 5 years

Year Data Breaches
2013 614
2014 783
2015 780
2016 1091
2017 1579
  1. 14.2 million credit card numbers and 158 million Social Security Numbers were exposed in 2017.
  2. Consumers lost $905 million due to identity theft in 2017.
  3. 21% of the people, who reported fraud, lost money.
  4. 64% of identity fraud complaints mentioned the method of id theft.
  5. According to 69.8% people, the most common method of initial contact was a telephone.
  6. 9.7% of people said that the method of initial contact was e-mail.
  7. 5% of people said that the method of initial contact was main.
Source: Identity Theft Resource Center

5 States with highest identity theft complaints

States Complaints per 100,000 consumers
Michigan 151
Florida 149
California 140
Maryland 129
Nevada 128
Source: The Experian

Conclusion

Take precautions so that no one can steal your identity. That’s very important. Precaution is better than cure. Change your passwords and check your credit report periodically. File a complaint with the FTC if you have been a victim of identity theft. Here are a few other steps you can take when you’re a victim of holiday identity theft.

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