Identity theft is a serious ongoing problem that you should take steps to avoid. Identity thieves can cause problems with your credit history, finances, and personal reputation. You should take all precautions to protect your personal information and avoid identity theft.
Specific Types of Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) specifies several unique types of identity theft. If your identity is stolen, you may be the victim of tax-related identity theft, child identity theft, or medical identity theft.
Tax-Related Identity Theft
If identity thieves steal your social security number you may receive payment from employers you’ve never worked with or have more than one tax return filed under your name. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers through email; thus, contact the IRS immediately if you receive an unexpected notice.
Child Identity Theft
Identity thieves can steal your child’s social security number to open bank accounts, apply for loans, and receive government benefits. If your child’s identity is stolen you may be rejected after applying for benefits and receive bills for services you didn’t receive.
Medical Identity Theft
Identity thieves can access your name and health insurance information to obtain prescription medications and various health services. Your personal information conflicts with the thieves’ and can affect your health insurance, treatment services, and credit score.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
The more people that have access to your personal information, the easier it is for them to steal your identity. Taking precautions to avoid identity theft prevents long-term expenses and legal issues.
You should never carry your social security card or birth certificate outside your home unless you have immediate plans to use them. If you misplace your wallet or purse, a thief can use this personal information to steal your identity.
Avoid relinquishing personal information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated contact or you’re aware of the caller. Identity thieves will offer fraudulent services by posing as fake companies on the phone or Internet.
Shred mail and other documents with your personal information before throwing them in the trash. Identity thieves can go in the garbage and steal this information and your identity.
You should create random PIN numbers and passwords for your accounts. If identity thieves can guess one code, they will use the same one for other accounts.
When ordering your checks, consider sending them to your bank for pickup rather than through the mail. Identity thieves can steal these checks from your mailbox, change information, and cash them.
Written by Brianna Jones. Brianna has a masters degree in criminology and actively works in her home town of Phoenix to help fraud victims.