Identity theft affects YOU every day. It results in higher prices for consumer goods, higher costs to financial institutions (costs passed on to you), higher costs to insurance companies (again, passed on to you), higher costs to law enforcement (passed on to you via taxes), and a host of other costs to society and commerce.
Everyone is affected indirectly by identity theft but chances are pretty good that you know someone affected directly as well. But did you know there are at least five types of identity theft?
The FIVE types of identity theft
Financial identity theft
This is what most people think of when the word is mentioned and it is the most common. Financial identity theft occurs when someone steals another’s identity to get credit for the purchase of goods or services. The most common form of financial identity theft is getting credit cards.
Commercial identity theft
Individuals aren’t the only entities to get their identity stolen. There have been many recorded cases of using another business’ credit to obtain goods and services as well.
Criminal identity theft
Criminals will use another’s identity to avoid detection by law enforcement or will use your identity when they’re caught in the commission of a crime. The most common cases are parolees, who know they’ll be sent back to jail if caught. They really have nothing to lose by using your identity.
Medical identity theft
Criminals will get medical care, drugs, or even reimbursement from health insurance companies using your name.
Cloning is the most sad, though no less disruptive. Cloning is the theft of another’s identity to assume their daily life. It may be for the praise, recognition, or a mental disorder of some sort, though some criminals will set themselves up with another’s identity to avoid law enforcement. Sometimes this type of identity theft occurs with children’s Social Security numbers and birthrates and sometimes even with the deceased! Yes, criminals will even steal the identity of people who have died.
How to protect your identity
- Consider using a service like GoIdentityProtect.com. These guys monitor your credit from all three bureaus and contact you if there is any discrepancy.
- Use a credit freeze if you’re really worried.
- Review your credit reports by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is a free service. Do this on a regular basis. If you’re using my FREE DAY PLANNER you’ll see automatic prompts to get these reports! Make sure there is nothing on your credit file that you didn’t initiate. If there is, contact the big three credit reporting agencies:
Each of these agencies has a feature on their site to allow you to file disputes to your credit file.
- Safeguard your Social Security number and date of birth. These, along with your name, are the most critical elements to your credit file and they are the only three things a thief needs to steal your identity.
- Use a cross-cut paper shredder on any document you throw out that may have any identifying information on it (including account numbers). Don’t cheap out on the shredder. It isn’t worth it.
- Monitor your bills. Put your bills on your calendar and if they don’t show up, call the creditor to insure your address wasn’t changed by an identity thief.
- Maintain a list of your key account information (including account numbers and passwords) and guard it closely.
- Guard your PINs and credit card numbers.
- Keep your social networking information limited to your friends ONLY.
- Keep your waiter in sight when you give him or her your credit card.
Don’t let identity thieves ruin your financial life! Whether they attempt to steal your personal or business credit, your medical identity, or assume your identity in everyday life, it’s important that you and I take the steps necessary to keep our own lives intact.
Personally, I don’t think the world wants another ME!