Are You Who You Say You Are?: The 4 Most Common Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft is usually done for the purpose of profit, but when you’re the victim, the consequences can go far beyond the financial. Identity theft can affect your credit report, your standing with the IRS, and even your medical records. Millions of Americans have their identities stolen every year, but you can protect yourself from fraudsters with the right amount of knowledge. Here’s what you need to know about the most common types of identity theft.

1) Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft is one of the most common forms of identity theft in the United States. It can happen when another person commits a crime using your name. The criminal may even use a fake ID card, with your name and other details, to steal your identity while committing the crime or after being arrested.

2) Medical Identity Theft

When your name and health insurance information end up in the wrong hands, you can be left on the hook for another person’s healthcare costs. Medical identity thieves can use your medical identification numbers to get free treatment, leaving you to handle the resulting bills, collection calls, and black marks on your credit report. You may even be denied for certain types of insurance because the fraudster’s medical conditions are listed on your records.

Your health insurance beneficiary information may also be hijacked by individuals who then bill Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or private insurers (such as Florida Blue or United Healthcare) to fraudulently bill for services which were never rendered or weren’t medically necessary.

3) Social Security Identity Theft

Many fraudsters will attempt to turn your social security number (SSN) into a goldmine. With the right information, thieves can sign up for credit cards and open bank accounts in your name. They can also forge documents like passports, sell your SSN to others, and access other services that are only available to social security holders.

4) Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity thieves will use your SSN to file a fraudulent tax return in your name. They may get your information from the internet, sometimes by phishing and posing as an IRS representative, and then claim a tax refund and take the money for themselves. When that happens, you probably won’t find out until the IRS rejects the tax return which you or your accountant submits because one has already been filed.

Preventing Identity Theft

Fraudsters can use a wide range of techniques to steal your identity, from simple “shoulder surfing” to outright credit card theft to high-tech phishing schemes. Here are some general rules to keep yourself safe from the threat of identity theft:

  • Keep your social security, medical, tax, and other information in a safe place.
  • If you lose an important ID card or credit card, report the loss as soon as possible.
  • Shred documents, like receipts and account statements, to keep your information safe from “dumpster divers” (or thieves who go through garbage to get personal information).
  • Make sure you have complex passwords that use different characters and numbers.
  • Practice safe Internet habits. Don’t respond to suspicious messages asking for your information, and make sure you have firewalls and antivirus software installed.
  • When you’re typing in a password or PIN, shield the keypad from potential shoulder-surfers.
  • Pay close attention to your bills, receipts, and billing cycles.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it’s important to act quickly and with strong legal backing. Contact the Law Offices of Barry M. Wax to take an aggressive, no-nonsense approach to your case of identity theft. We will do everything in our power to make sure justice is served.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax