Identity Theft ProtectionIdentity theft can be devastating. Many people have had everything they have worked for taken from them through the nefarious acts of others. Here we list several different types of identity theft that everyone needs to be aware of:

Financial identity theft

This type of identity theft occurs when a victim’s bank accounts and credit cards are obtained and used illegally. Generally, the thief is able to withdraw money from the victim’s accounts or make charges with the card number. Financial identity theft can also occur when a thief uses the victim’s personal information to get loans or open credit cards.

Driver’s license identity theft
When someone’s driver’s license is stolen, they are at risk for this type of identity theft.  At the simplest level, the thief will sell the stolen ID card to someone with similar features for a quick profit. The thief can also drive illegally with it and any infractions will be charged toward the name on the ID. If the driving offences are serious, it can result in a loss of driving privileges for the person who had the ID stolen.

Criminal identity theft
This type of theft stems from driver’s license theft. The person with the stolen ID can commit a crime and when an arrest occurs, use the ID to give a fake identity and the victim will receive the blame.

Social security identity theft
Social security numbers are important pieces of private information and should be guarded carefully. Identity thieves who obtain a victim’s social security number can wreak a lot of havoc. They can defraud the government and can receive benefits that were meant for the true holder of the number. The thief can also use a social security number to falsify documents in order to take out loans, get credit cards, or even get a passport.

Medical identity theft
This is a very specific type of identity theft. The thief will steal someone’s medical identity in order to commit insurance fraud by making false claims. Unfortunately, this type of identity theft can have major consequences. The victim’s medical records can be altered, which could result in incorrect diagnoses.

Child identity theft
This is quite simply the theft of a child’s identity through the stealing of a social security number. It generally happens because children don’t check credit reports and too often parents don’t think that their kids’ identities can be stolen.

Synthetic identity theft
This type of identity theft requires the thief to take information from various people’s identity to create an entire new identity. The fake identity can open credit accounts, apply for loans, and get a new cell phone, to name a few things. The lenders as well as the victims who have their names and social security numbers stolen are the biggest losers in this crime.

Thankfully, there are some easy steps everyone can take in order to be protected from identity theft.

Only carry essential documents
Be sure to leave important documents such as a social security card, passport, and birth certificate locked and at home. Keeping these items in a purse or wallet can increase the likelihood of identity theft. It is even a good idea to carry as few credit cards as possible.

New checks
When receiving new checks, have them delivered to the post office rather than the home. This will prevent the checks from being stolen, altered and cashed by an identity thief.

Do not give personal information out over the phone. Identity thieves like to make phone calls posing as banks or government agencies for the sole purpose of stealing identities.

Identity thieves are not above rummaging through trash for personal information. Shred everything that can be used to gain personal information. This includes, but is not limited to receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, and returned checks. A good rule of thumb to follow is, if you’re in doubt, shred it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Know your credit
Keep up-to-date on credit scores. It is also a good idea to sign up with a credit monitoring service.

Protect your Social Security Number
Treat your SSN like the important piece of data it is. Don’t put it on your checks where it can be seen by other people, don’t carry the card with you, and don’t give the number to others. Furthermore, do not share your social security number with medical facilities, financial institutions, and other accounts unless absolutely necessary and you have verified the security of your information. Many institutions request this information, but always verify it is required before providing it.

Follow credit card billing cycles
Often the first step identity thieves take is changing a billing address; so, be extra vigilant. Make sure you receive a bill every month and make sure everything is accurate on it.

Make passwords and PIN numbers a random mix of letter, numbers, and characters so they are difficult to guess.

Keep passwords filed away
Be sure to keep a list of passwords, expiration dates, and important telephone numbers but don’t keep it in a purse or wallet that can be easily stolen. Instead keep it safely filed where it can be easily accessed by you but not obvious to someone else.

Identity theft can be difficult to recover from so it is crucial to take steps to help protect yourself. Be careful and vigilant to assure you won’t become the next victim.