Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft 2022: Top Full Guide

Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft 2022: Top Full Guide

Identity theft is a serious problem that can happen to anyone. The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to be aware of the signs and to take steps to protect your personal information. Read on for more information!

What is Identity Theft?

What is Identity Theft?

The U.S. Department of Justice defines Identity thieves as “fraudulent use of another person’s personally identifiable information” (PII). This is usually done for financial gain. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your sensitive information to pretend to you or steal from you.

Identity thieves can drain your bank accounts and investment accounts, open credit lines, get utility services, steal your tax refund, use insurance information to get treatment, or give police your address and name when they are arrested.

PII can include your Social Security number and date of birth, credit card and bank account numbers as well as passwords, passport numbers and birth and death certificates. Telephone numbers, medical ID numbers, biometric data such as fingerprints and scans are all examples.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your sensitive information to pretend to you or steal from.

Identity thieves can drain your bank accounts and investment accounts, open credit lines, get utility services, steal your tax refund, use insurance information to get treatment, or give police your address and name when they are arrested.

Your information could already be exposed if there are frequent data breaches. It’s important to take precautions to stop malicious actors from using your personal data and ruining your financial future.

Millions of Americans are Affected by Identity Theft Every Year

Millions of Americans are Affected by Identity Theft Every Year

A Debt.com poll in 2021 found that four out of 10 people have been victims of identity theft. This may leave many to say, “Oh, it won’t happen to me”, but new data on increasing instances of identity theft raise the alarm.

A February 2021 Federal Trade Commission report showed that Americans lost $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020. This is a substantial increase from the $1.8 million reported in 2019. American fraud victims are also increasing. 34% of 2020 fraud reportings cite loss of money, while 23% of 2019 reports mention it.

Rising Theft of identity cases in 2021 came from an unlikely source: government benefits. SentiLink CEO and co-founder Naftali Harris say that “Much of it is due to fraudsters using weakly secured unemployment insurance plans [and fraudsters] taking the identities of citizens, and claiming benefits in our name.”

The FTC data shows that consumers reported 40x more benefits fraud to them in Q1 2021 than in Q1 2020. This is likely due to an increase in unemployment filings caused by pandemic shutdowns and job market stress.

Who is Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft?

Who is Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft?

Even though having a Social Security Number puts you at risk for identity fraud, certain populations are more susceptible to identity theft.

Children: Thieves love children because they can use their Social Security numbers for clean credit profiles. This is especially useful for someone with bad credit or who is looking to open fraudulent accounts. Because they might have access to the child’s Social Security number, family members are often the culprits.

Seniors are more susceptible to being swindled by telephone scams and phishing than younger people.

Social media users: People who are prolific on social media have a lot of personal information online. This makes them easy targets for fraudsters. Many people were so excited about the Covid-19 vaccination that they posted photos online of their cards. These cards contain a lot of personal information, including your full name, birth date, and even your date of birth.

Military: Active-duty military personnel is less likely to notice any problems in their credit reports when they’re deployed. Additionally, frequent relocations mean that their personal information is shared more frequently.

Report Identity Theft

Differences in ID theft reporting
An ID theft report is what will make the difference between reporting ID theft online and by phone. A report on ID theft helps businesses prove that your identity was stolen. This report can help you address problems that result from ID theft.

  • You won’t receive an ID theft report if you call.
  • Report online to receive an ID theft report.

You can report ID theft online by creating an IdentityTheft.gov account. You’ll be able to:

  • Access pre-written letters you can send to creditors in order to fix your accounts.
  • To help you fix identity theft problems, get a recovery plan.
  • You will be able to monitor your progress in fixing the identity theft problems.

What is the Best Identity Theft Protection Service?

Identity theft protection services will let you know if your personal and financial information has been misused or if it is at risk due to a data breach. They may be able to help you, and even reimburse your costs if you have been the victim of identity theft.

You may consider an identity protection service if you feel like you are doing everything you can to protect it or don’t have the time. You should choose the best-paid service that suits your needs and provides the coverage you need.

However, before you buy one, make sure that you have no ID theft benefit or discount.

NerdWallet reviews can help you make an informed decision about buying.

  • IdentityForce
  • IDShield
  • LifeLock

7 Types Of Identity Theft and The Warning Signs

7 Types Of Identity Theft and The Warning Signs

Here are some common ways criminals can get your information:

1. Identity theft through credit cards

ID theft is when someone uses your personal information (e.g., birthdate, Social Security No) to apply for a new line of credit.

Credit reports may contain inaccurate information, such as credit accounts not belonging, tax liens or bankruptcies, and employment history that isn’t consistent with yours.

Warning signs: An unexpected change in credit scores or an account that you don’t recognize on a credit report could be a sign of trouble. You could be sent notices of collection or a judgment from the court. It is best to stop it by freezing your credit.

2. Identity theft from children

Criminals can steal the identity of a child and then apply for credit under that child’s name. It is often not discovered until the victim applies to college loans or any other credit.

Watch out for warning signs. If your child receives credit card offers or calls regarding late payments or debt collection, you should investigate. To stop it, you can freeze your child’s credit.

3. Synthetic identity theft

Synthetic identity theft is when criminals combine real and false information to create a new identity. For example, someone’s Social Security number combined with a fake name, birth date, and address. Identity thieves can also combine factual information from different people to create a new identity.

Fortunately, ID theft victims can detect scams early by regularly checking their credit report for suspicious activity. Credit reporting agencies may be able to generate a new credit file for the fraudulent identity.

Lenders report the accounts and loans that were applied for using the fake identity to the new credit report. This makes it difficult for victims to see how they misuse their information.

4. Identity theft from taxpayers

Sometimes, fraudsters will use your Social Security number to file your tax return. They can also steal your tax refund or credit.

Warning signs: If someone else has filed under your Social Security number, then you may not be able to e-file. You will receive an IRS notice or letter that refers to an activity that you didn’t know about.

IRS records also suggest that you worked for an employer you don’t. You can beat criminals by filing early. Some states provide six-digit identity protection pins (subject to a thorough verification) that offer additional security.

5. Identity theft in medicine

Medical identity theft is when someone uses another’s identity to obtain health care services. This is especially dangerous as it can lead to medical histories being mixed up, which could give doctors and hospitals incorrect information when they make health care decisions.

Warning signs: Payments or claims on your insurance explaining benefits that you don’t recognize could indicate that someone is taking advantage of your health care benefits. To ensure that your records are accurate, both your insurance company as well as your doctor will need to be notified if you fall for it.

6. Takeover of accounts

To gain access to your financial accounts, criminals can use personal data. They then change passwords and addresses, so you don’t have access anymore.

Warning signs: An email from your financial institution, letter or text referring to an action (such as a password change or email modification) or transaction that you aren’t familiar with.

7. Criminal identity theft

When someone gives police someone else’s address and name during an investigation or arrest, it is called criminal identity theft. This can be done by using false identification, such as a fake driver’s license.

Warning signs: A police officer may detain you for reasons that are not clear to you. You could also be denied employment or promoted due to something in your background check.

Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Although it is impossible to guarantee your identity will not be stolen, these steps can help you take immediate actions to protect your financial and personal information.

Your credit reports are available

All three credit bureaus offer a weekly free copy of your credit reports. You can check your credit to identify fraudulent activity such as new credit cards, loans or inquiries that you don’t recognize.

Freeze credit reports

You can’t open new accounts in your name after you have frozen your credit reports. You can temporarily lift or remove a freeze online by using the password or pin assigned during the initial freeze.

It is free to freeze and unfreeze your credit when you wish to start a new account, and it gives the greatest security against an ID thief utilizing your information to open a new account.

A password manager is a must

Storing passwords in your browser could make them more vulnerable to malware and other hacks. Password managers provide an encrypted way to save your login information.

This makes it both easy to access (by you) and difficult to access by others. Subscription-based password managers are the most popular.

Protect your devices with biometric or password protection

Kaspersky Labs discovered that 52 percent of smartphone users don’t have their passwords protected. A password or biometric authentication (such as fingerprints or facial recognition) can be turned on to prevent thieves from accessing your personal information.

Avoid public WiFi

Although free WiFi may seem like a big deal, scammers can easily connect to your devices via open networks. You should not allow unsecured WiFi connections to access your financial accounts. If you must use public Wi-Fi, utilize a virtual private network provider to establish a secure connection.

You should throw away all documents

Identity thieves will love to find bank statements, old credit cards, and anything that contains your Social Security number in your trash. A micro-cut or cross-cut shredder is the most secure. You should also be on the lookout to find community shredding events.

Security software is worth the investment

Antivirus and malware software will help you identify attempts to gain access to your personal information via online scammers. It can also neutralize these threats. Annual fees range from $35 to $100.

Be less social

Enable the most secure security features on your social media accounts if you are on them. These tips from Facebook will help you assess and protect your account quickly. Be cautious with the information you share, such as your full name, address, city, employer, and birth date.

Register for credit monitoring at no cost

Cardholders can get free credit monitoring from companies like Capital One or Discover. There are also free monitoring tools that can be used by many credit bureaus and Credit Karma. This allows you to monitor your Equifax or TransUnion credit reports.

Online data leaks can be checked

Ask the internet to find out if your data has been compromised or found on the dark web. Sites such as F-Secure or have I been pwned are free and easy to use.

These sites are easy to use and free of charge. Simply enter your email address. You can reset your password if you discover an account that has been compromised.

Note: You can prevent identity theft by doing basic due diligence. Additionally, you can use free tools to monitor your credit and get bank and credit card notifications. Experts recommend that you subscribe to an identity protection service. This will add an additional layer of protection.

Bonus Tips

Don’t share sensitive data unless absolutely necessary

Do not share your Social Security number or debit card pins, driver’s license, birth date, or other sensitive information via phone calls, text messages and email. Before you share any information with a bank, financial institution or other financial institution via phone or email, verify that their contact information is correct.

If you get an email from your bank asking for information, make sure to verify the full address. An email sent by a scammer will often contain an additional letter, number, or word than a legitimate email. You might also find typos or other grammatical errors in the body of the email.

You should not click on the links in an e-mail that you get from this source, even if they seem legitimate.

Keep in mind, however, that government agencies such as the IRS will not contact you by texting or calling to request personal information, or threaten legal action.

Collect mail every day

There are many ways criminals can steal your identity. They can take your bank statements, credit card statements, utility bills, tax forms, and pre-approved credit card offers from your mailbox.

Thieves can also reroute mail by sending change-of-address requests in your name. Keep track of any mail that hasn’t arrived.

Important documents should be shredded

Some identity thieves still use old-fashioned methods like dumpster diving for credit cards and loan offers, bank account statements, utility bills, or medical bills.

Before disposing of any personal information, you should destroy all documents. A paper shredder is a good option, as a fraudster may reassemble a paper that was manually ripped.

Do I have to pay for identity protection?

Many companies are willing to provide a subscription if you are interested in identity protection. You get additional perks with the best identity protection services, such as help in resolving cases of ID theft and insurance up to $1,000,000 if your identity has been compromised.

It’s hard to justify the expense with all the tools offered by reputable companies such as Credit Karma and Experian. A paid identity monitoring service might be a good choice if you need the added convenience of a subscription.

Related:

FAQs

Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft - FAQs

1. Which age group is most at risk from identity theft?

Ages 30 to 39
The most targeted age group in 2020 for ID theft was 30-39-year-olds. In the United States, 306,090 cases of ID theft were reported to the Federal Trade Commission. With 302,678 theft cases reported, the 40-49 age group was second.

2. What are hackers capable of doing with your personal data?

Companies can be hurt by stolen personal information

Criminals can use stolen data to target employees of companies to get sensitive information or trick them into making payments. Spear-phishing is a type of phishing attack that targets a particular individual.

3. How can you tell if your personal data has been compromised?

Bills and statements for accounts that you have never opened arrive in the mail. Not receiving statements or bills from legitimate accounts. Unexpectedly, you are denied credit. Unauthorized bank withdrawals or transactions

4. What happens if you report identity theft

Reporting identity theft begins an investigation. The process of restoring good credit starts. The type of identity theft will determine the exact steps.

The credit card issuers will usually replace your cards with new ones that have a different number. Once you’re back in business, they will refund your money. The most common resolutions to the theft of benefits or ID theft by taxpayers are slower.

Keep detailed notes of phone conversations and emails to help you remember.

Conclusion

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the risk of identity theft grows. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The easiest way to protect yourself from identity theft is to be vigilant about your personal information.

Don’t give out your social security number or credit card information to anyone unless you are absolutely sure they are legitimate. Be careful about what you post online, and don’t click on links from unknown sources.

Lacoon hopes that our guide will help you understand ways to protect yourself against identity theft. Thank you for taking the time to read

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