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What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is an illegal offense where stolen information is used to commit fraud. Identity thieves steal and use your personal information to apply for credit cards, file taxes, or obtain medical services. An identity theft can ruin your credit history and cost you substantial amounts of money to restore your name. Unfortunately, you might not know that your identity has been stolen until you experience an unforeseen financial consequence, such as an unknown bill, credit collection, or a denied loan.

Common kinds of identity theft that might affect you include:

  • Child Identity Theft: The identity of children is particularly valuable because it can often go unnoticed for years. Sadly, kids who have had their identity stolen usually have significant damage done to their credit status by the time they become adults.
  • Tax Identity Theft: This happens when someone uses your Social Security number to falsely file tax returns.
  • Medical Identity Theft: This type of theft features the use of your Medicare ID or health insurance member number to ¬†fraudulently obtain and bill get medical services to your health insurance provider.
  • Senior Identity Theft: Senior citizens are the target of many ID theft schemes because they tend to have frequent contact with medical professionals and caregivers who have access to important personal information and financial documents that can be used to steal their identity.
  • Social Identity Theft: Fraudulent use of your name, photos, and other personal information to make a fake account on a social media website.

How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

You should take the following steps if you want to protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Keep your Social Security number (SSN) in a secure location. Never keep your Social Security card in your wallet, or write your number on a check. You should only give your SSN to other people when it is absolutely necessary.
  • Ignore any unsolicited requests for your name, birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number. Be skeptical about any phone calls, mail, or emails you receive that ask for your personal information.
  • Ask the 3 major credit reporting agencies for a freeze on your credit reports.
  • Keep a close eye on your billing cycles. If you notice that your bills or bank statements are arriving late, inform the sender of the issue.
  • If you use banking websites and applications on your mobile device, make sure that you enable all pertinent security features.
  • Update sharing and firewall settings if you use public Wi-Fi frequently. To better protect yourself, you should use a virtual private network.
  • Watch out for transactions that you didn’t authorize. Don’t let your mail sit around, instead, promptly review your financial statements when they first arrive.
  • To prevent your personal information from being obtained by thieves, you should shred-up your receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards that you no longer need.
  • Always store your personal information in a safe place.
  • Make sure your passwords are complex. If a company you use has a data breach, you should immediately change all of your passwords.
  • You should review your credit report at least once a year to make sure it does not contain any accounts that you did not open.

Do you think your identity has been stolen? We can help. Contact our Akron theft crimes attorneys to schedule your free consultation today.