In the modern interconnected world, the threat of identity continues to get bigger. This is where someone acquires your personal details and uses them to pose as you. The person will do this in order to make a financial gain or other gains. Most cases of identity fraud usually entail stealing credit card details. The details are then used to make unauthorized purchases. However, identity theft can be much worse. Fraudsters can use your details to open a new credit card, get a replacement passport, driving license, or other documents. They can even use your details to create criminal records. Here is a close look at how identity theft works:
Financial ID Theft
Most people associate ID theft with financial fraud. This type of ID theft can mean that your credit cards and bank accounts are accessed, and money is withdrawn without your permission. It can also mean that your personal details are used to get new credit cards and take loans. This can damage your credit score for years to come. However, there are measures you can take to recover from ID theft.
Driving License ID Theft
This type of theft is quite simple. The criminal will steal your driver’s license and find ways to use the ID. They may even sell it to someone who can pass as you. If the fraudster is caught in a traffic violation, he or she will give out your ID. You will not need to show up in court since you do not know about it. However, the police will launch a manhunt for you. In the future, this can affect the insurance rates you pay, lead to your driving license being revoked or even make it impossible to get car insurance.
National Isurance ID Theft
One of the most important personal details that you have is the National Insurance number. A criminal can use this to steal from the government benefits meant for you. The NI number can also be used to falsify documents such as passports or take loans and even acquire credit cards.
Criminal ID Theft
If the person who stole your ID decides to engage in a spate of crimes, he or she can produce your ID when caught by the police. The fake identity can lead to a long criminal record. In some cases, this can even affect your ability to secure gainful employment.
Child ID Theft
Children will most likely not care about their credit reports. However, criminals can still use the child’s personal details to steal from the government. The child’s details can even be used to acquire loans from banks.
Synthetic ID Theft
This type of theft entails using the details of several people to create a ghost identity. The identity is then used to steal from banks and other lenders. A thief will use a variety of combined information such as addresses and phone numbers to create an identity and use it to steal from the banks. While the main victim here is the bank, the person whose details were used can still be affected negatively.
How to Reduce the Risk of ID Theft
While ID theft is rampant in this era, you are not helpless. There are various fraud prevention measures, which you can use to ensure it does not happen in the future. These measures include:
Consider a Credit Freeze
Credit freezes do not affect your credit score. However, it ensures that your credit report cannot be used to open new accounts, rent any apartments, or even apply for a loan.
Do Not Click on a Link if you are Unsure about it
Fraudsters often use fake emails that look like they came from your bank to steal your data. If you look at an email and it seems off, do not click on it. Instead, place the mouse pointer over it to see the destination URL where it will send you. This will show you whether you were being scammed or not. If it is a fake link, you can tell the bank about it..
Block Out Your Personal Details
While many people opt to receive their bills via email, there are those that still get them via the mail. In such a case, you should know that even a waste truck diver could try to acquire your personal details.
Although shredding is a good way to destroy your details, recycling shredded paper is more difficult and some plants are unable to do so. A cheaper, environmentally friendly alternative would be the COLOP Green Line ID stamp - simply use the stamp to print over the sensitive information, making it difficult to read, protecting your sensitive information.
Leave the National Insurance Card at Home
Although in recent years the government have stopped issuing the cards, some older generations still may have them. It is only on rare occasions that you will need your NI number. All that is needed from you is the number. If you lose the card, it could cause you a lifetime of problems. Keep it in a safe at home or in your deposit box at the bank.
Avoid Sharing too Much Online
Social media has become the new hunting ground for identity thieves. They will follow you on various social media accounts until they piece together enough details to create a false identity. Never post your location data, personal details, or anything in photos that might reveal your details. For instance, always check your photos to see if there are any credit cards visible before you upload them.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Although quite simple, it is one of the strongest fraud prevention measures. It ensures that someone will need to have your phone with them in order to steal your details. It is a requirement by most financial firms when users want to change their details. When that is not the case, you should use it for your personal safety. Also, consider updating your password occasionally.
Now that you have a good idea of what ID theft is and how to protect yourself, ensure that you do it. Each year, fraudsters siphon off billions of pounds. Many families are destroyed when this happens each year. The financial ruin can lead to depression and even the inability to find work. If you ever suspect anything, err on the side of caution. A single incident of misplaced documents can mean you will never be able to afford car insurance, holiday insurance, or even house insurance. Use the above measures to keep yourself safe and always keep abreast with the news. It will help you to know the latest tricks being used by fraudsters and how you can keep your personal details away from them.