One day you got to know that your credit card application got rejected. And when you tried to understand the reason, you get to know that your credit report shows multiple overdue credit cards on your name, for which you never applied.

It is a case for identity theft. What will you do in such cases? Or how will you protect yourself against it?

Identity theft is a crime in which one person wrongly obtains some other person’s information to impersonate as someone else. Identity theft can be used by criminals to get financial benefits in another person’s name. Personal information may be something like their name, date of birth, identification number (like social security number, health care number and driving license) financial information (like credit card number, account details), electronic signature, fingerprints, passwords, PINs, etc.

Victims of identity theft may suffer consequences of the fraud done using identity theft. We must be alert all the time to protect ourselves against identity theft. Identity theft is not only limited to individuals, but it can happen to businesses also. In this article, we will focus on individual identity theft only. Let’s have a more in-depth look at different aspects of identity theft-

How does criminal get someone’ personal information for identify theft

  • Dumpster diving:

In this technique, the criminal looks into someone’s trash for retrieving personal information. They might look for sticky notes, phone list, or calendar which people might have used for access codes, passwords, etc. For example, people get preapproved credit card letters. If they are not interested, they throw that into the bin without shredding it.

  • Stealing letters:

Thief gets your mails from your open mailbox.

  • Social Engineering:

An attacker can use phishing (via email), vishing (via call), smsing (via SMS) to get their personal information. The user gives this information because of their unawareness or weakness for a lucrative offer.

  • Shoulder surfing:

Thief stands next to someone in public places like banks, the motor vehicle department, etc. and observe the personal information which they fill.

  • Company data theft:

There might be a data breach in a company like a bank, an insurance company in which you have an account. Hackers can try to use your personal information for their benefit.

  • Cloning Credit Card Information:

Credit card information can we cloned using an intentionally infected card reader at the restaurant, gas station, or shopping mall. Then this information can be put into a counterfeit credit card, which can be used by fraudsters to make purchases.

Types of identity theft

There are so many kinds of identity theft from which main types are as follows-

  • Criminal identity theft:

Criminal pretends as another person when they get caught for a crime. They give a fake identity with your identity number to the police, which results in a criminal record for you.

  • Financial identity theft:

The criminal uses another person’s identity to obtain credit, goods, and services. If its insurance identity theft case, then it will create in your insurance payment settlement and can also result in a potentially higher premium.

  • Medical identity theft:

Thief steal’s someone’s health insurance member number to get medical services or drugs). Victim’s health insurance companies will get these fraudulent bills, which they will add in the victim’s medical history.

  • Child identity theft:

A thief can steal a child’s social security number for getting government benefits, getting other services, etc. Often people do not check or care credit score of

  • Senior citizen Id theft:

A senior citizen can be an easy target for Identity theft because they frequently contact medical professionals who have access to personal information, including financial details.

What can attackers do with your identity?

A criminal can take over your identity and can do a wide range of crimes, which is frightening.

For example:

  • False applications for loans on your name.
  • A thief may get a credit card on your name. He changes the address on credit cards and uses them. The credit card bills go to him, but he never pays them. The credit card company will think you are not paying the bills, and it hurts your credit.
  • Cybercriminals can withdraw money from your bank accounts or credit cards.
  • Criminals can use telephone calling cards or online accounts on your name to conduct fraud or criminal activities.
  • They can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund.

What to do for identity theft recovery?

Once you notice that someone has stolen your identity, you should immediately contact an appropriate organization like a bank, Credit Card Company, an insurance company, etc. depending upon the type of information stolen. A victim can request to freeze their account to prevent any charges or claims. Next, they should file a complaint in the police and cybersecurity cell of your city.

If your personal information is part of a company’s data breach, then you should contact the responsible company to understand the type of assistance and protection they are providing you.

Tips for preventing Identity theft:

  • Check an individual’s credit report regularly. Credit Report contains your credit history like your loans, credit cards, etc.
  • Check your account statements regularly. If you find any unauthorized transactions and false charges, then follow up with the bank.
  • Remember your billing cycles, and if you do not get the bill of service, then follow up with the company.
  • Pay close attention to your health reports, and if you find any health condition in it which you do not have then notify Health Insurance Company.
  • Keep your financial document like social security number, bank statement at a safe place.
  • Always keep our security settings on social networking sites.
  • Always shred papers, emails, account statements before throwing in the trash.
  • Do not respond to phishing SMS, emails, and calls.
  • Use a strong password and keep your computer’s security software updated.
  • The mailbox should have locks. If you are going on holiday, then request your post office to have a hold on your emails.
  • Be extra careful when you dispose of old computers and mobile phones. You should magnetically clean the hard disk to wipe data. You should remove memory cards and SIM cards before selling or disposing of mobiles.