Identity theft– exactly how would you define it? And how likely is it to happen to you? There is a lot to cover in this post. Such as: What is the difference between identity theft and fraud? How do you know if your identity has been stolen? Who are the most common victims of identity theft? What should you do if your identity is stolen? What are the warning signs of identity theft? There are many other questions.
Identity Theft Won’t Happen to Me!
I know we all think that identity theft won’t happen to us. Like Les Brown’s once-favorite saying. “Just because you are a nice person doesn’t mean someone won’t knock you in the head” … sad but true. I’m grateful to say I was chosen for identity fraud, not theft. Now, what’s the difference? Well, don’t let me get ahead of myself; read below as we explain the difference. Also included are identity fraud 13 FAQs.
Whereas, identity theft can happen to anyone, those that are victimized many times feel hopeless and defenseless. Although it’s hard to out-smart cyber-criminals and hackers; never should we just hold our hands up to let them rob us blind. Education is always the great equalizer. What we don’t know about identity theft can hurt our chances of financial and personal recovery. Nope! Education won’t stop you from being chosen, but it can help in assisting you to recover your money and or identify.
Exactly what is identity theft? According to Investopedia, identity theft is the crime of obtaining the personal or financial information of another person for the sole purpose of assuming that person’s identity.
Listed below are seven different types of identity theft
- Financial Identity Theft
- Driver’s License Identity Theft
- Criminal Identity Theft
- Social Security Identity Theft
- Medical Identity Theft
- Insurance Identity Theft
- Child Identity Theft
13 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Identify Fraud
#1. How do You Know if Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
There are warning signs of identity theft, some as clearly noticeable as a depleted bank account. Or an onslaught of creditors calling demanding payments for services you never received. I’ve also heard of those being falsely arrested or accused of crimes. If you begin seeing any suspicious activity, you should suspect foul play. For assistance, you can call or visit the FTC: / Or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)
# 2. Can You Put a Freeze on Your Social Security Number?
Placing a freeze on your social security number is an act you can request at any time. If a freeze is placed on your account and someone tries to open an account in your name, that request will be denied; and you will be notified.
# 3. What are the Warning Signs of Identity Theft?
The warning signs of identity theft are any suspicious or unusual activity on your credit report, unexplained charges or missing funds from your banking account. Anything out of the ordinary calls for an investigation on your part. It never hurts to be proactive… even if you are wrong… no foul or harm.
# 4. How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft?
There are a few ways to protect yourself. You can place a freeze on your credit report eliminating anyone from opening an account in your name, Use a password manager to generate long, harder to guess logins and go the extra mile to protect your financial and personal logins by incorporating two-step authentication on your financial and personal accounts.
Moreover, you may want to consider a credit monitoring service. There are also free services available. You can check the ITRC, a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases and to broaden public education and awareness.
# 5. What Should You Do if Your Identity is Stolen?
If your identity is stolen the first order of business should be to place an alert on your credit report. This prevents identity thieves from opening accounts in your name. Contact one or all the credit reporting agencies to freeze your account. Notify your financial institutions to request a fraud alert to your account.
It wouldn’t hurt also to notify your local police department just in case any illegal activities have been committed with the use of your ID. Ultimately, the key is to take immediate action.
# 6. What are Clues That Someone Has Stolen Your Information
The first signs are often overlooked because it sometimes takes a while before pieces of evidence come forth. For financial identify theft, bank overdrafts statements and letters from your bank can be expected. Monthly withdrawals aren’t being paid. Sudden suspicious withdrawals from your accounts that you can’t explain. Unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit cards that aren’t yours. Debt collectors calling regarding debts that you don’t have knowledge of. Keep an eye for any out of the ordinary activities.
# 7. Can I Press Charges for Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a crime, and you can file a police report. Filing a report is helpful. This alert local law enforcement of malicious activities. But unfortunately, the chances of an arrest or restitution from the perpetrators are highly unlikely. Many of these cybercrimes are committed on the black market or dark websites… or spoofed. The perpetrators are often from other countries. It’s hard to find cyber-criminals; even harder to prosecute them. But a police report may be required for restitution.
# 8. Can Your Identity Be Stolen from your Driver’s License Number?
Unfortunately, your identity can be stolen from your driver’s license. On those small ID cards (driver license) all our information is encrypted. The encrypted information can be decoded by hackers who have the necessary tools and equipment to easily detract your personal information. We must guard our ID’s like our life depends on it. And as soon as we realized it’s missing, start the freezing process.
# 9. How Can I Find Out if Someone is Using my Identity?
Being proactive is smart and easy. There are free and paid services. For now, we will discuss the free options. Monitor your credit report by contacting one or all three credit reporting agencies online for free. Additionally, you can check your Social Security Administration earnings and benefits statement for foul play. Visit Identity Thief.gov Or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338). For even more information visit
# 10. Who are the Most Common Victims of Identity Theft?
It’s safe to say that criminals are criminals and even they are smart enough to take the path of least resistance. Their most common victims are seniors, children, and previous victims. Seniors because they don’t regularly check their accounts and use easy to guess passwords for logins. Children because it could take years before anyone notices a problem. Previous victims because the hackers could still have access to your information.
#11. What are the Most Common Forms of Identity Theft?
According to the FTC, credit card fraud is the most common form of identity theft. Employment or tax-related fraud is a close second. Bank fraud, phone, and utility fraud are further down the list.
# 12. Should I Pay for Credit Monitoring?
Hmm, that’s a personal decision. It all depends on your financial picture. If you’re extremely busy and lack the time and energy to keep a tight check on your accounts, a monitoring service may not be a bad idea. The price could be worth the peace of mind. Furthermore, some credit monitoring companies offer insurance, monitoring service, and send out alerts… for more on credit monitoring check here.
#13. How Long Does It Take to Recover from Identity Theft?
The short answer is, it depends on the level of fraud. Sometimes the web can be spun so tightly it could take months or years to recover. There are many variables that make it hard to pinpoint an exact time frame. On a personal note, I’ve experienced identity fraud, spoofed to be accurate. I noticed my bank account balance dwindling and dwindling until finally realizing that there had to be something wrong. I immediately visited the bank, then called the bank’s fraud department. My money was redeposited in around 1.5 weeks. But that was identity fraud, not identity theft. When your identity has been stolen it could take an undetermined about of time.
What’s the difference between identity theft and identity fraud? “Identity theft” occurs when someone steals your identity for criminal wrongdoing. And “identity fraud” occurs when someone uses your identity to commit fraudulent acts.
Here’s a look at three popular products in the identity protection industry.:
LifeLock is one of the most thorough widely advertised identity theft protection services out there. More than likely you have received mass mailing or direct marketing literature from LifeLock. The Ultimate Plus plan monitors a wide range of online databases, public records, and even black-market websites to see if your personal information has been compromised.
IDshield offers 24/7 live support, dark web scanning, and monthly credit reports. Include with there services are up to $1 million worth of insurance and unlimited consultation. Lastly, for a limited time, you can qualify for 30 days free when you sign up. Check here:
3. DashLane Premium Plus
DashLane Premium Plus is the only solution that both prevents and protects you from the consequences of data breaches and identity theft. Our Premium Plus plan includes all the benefits of Dashlane Premium, plus credit monitoring, identity restoration support, and up to $1 million of Identity Theft Insurance. There’s also a free version. Get more details here: https://www.dashlane.com/
A Follow-up on a previously asked question:
One of the questions that were asked and answered earlier about identity theft; who are the most likely targets?
The answer; one of the most likely identity theft victims are prior victims.
Here’s an update…
The response is true, I’m proof positive. After writing the first post, approximately one month later I was attacked again. What’s funny is that I told my husband that many of the issues I wrote about I’ve experienced. 97 percent of what you will read from my website is from personal experience.
Back to the story: YES!!! my debit card number was fraudulently used. This time from a security breach.
Ironically, one day as I was listening to the news, which I try not to do, the reporter covered a story about a recent security breach that targeted gas stations.
Finally, I made the NewS…
I was one of the victims. My card number was used, 6 times, in 10 days, and in 6 different states.
This happened 6 times, once for $100.00 which was listed 3 consecutive times.
A human wouldn’t have swiped the card twice for close to or identical amounts, at one time. This happened 6 times, once for $100.00 which was listed 3 consecutive times. … Ding… Ding… Ding…
The way the card was used was a dead give-away. I told my husband even before watching the news that it had to have been a breach because of the weird way the charges were made.
However, on the flip side, the strangeness is what got my attention. What caught my eye first while viewing my bank statement was an unfamiliar charge. That charge was $1.00…a dog treat.
Now, unless I’m without my change purse and my car, I rarely ever swipe my card to spend $1.00. Next, they didn’t know that I love cute little dogs… but we don’t have any pets and that I stopped eating pet treats years ago! (joking). Although I must admit, my friend has a bird that I think I could fall in love with.
I spoke with my banker to see if they had any new updated- security information regarding how to keep my account safe. The only new info I received was that cyber-criminals have a new way to ascertain numbers from your bank cards without retrieving your card. They use some type of device. They just need to be close enough, how close I’m not sure.
That’s crazy. One way to combat this is to use a metal credit cardholder.
You can purchase them from anyway, I brought mine from Tuesday Morning, ( a chain store) but you can purchase them from Amazon, Wal-Mart or any other store.
Conclusion: Cyber-security is big business. With the advent of the internet and ease of global connectivity, identity theft has become easier and much harder to catch. “The first thing consumers need to do according to Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, “Freeze, freeze, freeze. Everything else is gravy on top of that.”
If you’re the kind of person who won’t ‘regularly monitor your credit, or you’re a recent or past victim of identity theft or high risk, you may want to consider a monitoring service. However, even using a monitor service, doesn’t inoculate you from identity theft. Please read their agreements. Most companies’ printed material states they can’t guarantee that your identity won’t be compromised. However, you will receive alerts of suspicious activities and some companies offer insurance.