Identity theft hit an all-time high in 2016, with more than $16 billion stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers, according to Javelin’s 2017 Identity Fraud Study. The term identity theft is a big umbrella term and there are different specific types of identity theft that fall underneath it.
Here are seven of the most common types of identity theft:
- Tax identity theft
Tax identity theft is when an identity thief uses your Social Security number for their job (so additional income that isn’t yours is reported under your Social Security number), or to steal your tax refund. Or perhaps a thief might try to claim your child as a dependent. For common indicators of tax identity theft, and what to do if you suspect someone used your Social Security number to get a job or steal your refund, visit our blog post.
- Medical identity theft
This fast-growing type of identity theft is described as “the fraudulent use of an individual’s personally identifiable information (PII), such as name, Social Security number, and/or medical insurance identity number to obtain medical goods or services or to fraudulently bill for medical goods or services using an unlawfully obtained medical identity,” according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. It’s also dangerous because aside from the financial fallout, the thief’s own medical history, records, and diagnosis can get mixed up with your health information, which can complicate your life for years to come. For signs of medical identity theft, check out our blogpost, and for tips on how to help prevent medical identity theft, visit “Six Things You Can Do To Help Protect Against Medical Identity Theft.”
- New account identity theft
That new chip in your credit and debit cards — called EMV — has successfully reduced in-person fraud, according to the most recent Javelin Identity Fraud Report, but the criminals have just switched their focus to new account fraud. According to the 2016 Javelin report, there was a “113 percent increase in incidence of new account fraud, which now accounts for 20 percent of all fraud losses.”
If an identity thief gets a hold of your Social Security number, they can use it to open up bank accounts and sign up for credit cards, which they quickly max out and leave you hanging for the bill. This is why data breaches that involve Social Security numbers are considered the most egregious. Many times people won’t know they were a victim of this type of identity theft until they go to apply for a new mortgage, car loan or some other type of credit and are turned down because their credit score tanked.
- Existing account takeover
This type of identity theft happens when someone is able to compromise your existing credit cards and make fraudulent charges. For Kentucky resident Amy Bailey, the first sign something was amiss was when she started getting bills from existing retailer credit cards like J.Crew and Victoria’s Secret for purchases she didn’t make. How did it happen? The theory is the criminal, who had all of Bailey’s personal information (name, address, Social Security number), went into the store, claimed to have forgotten the card, and was allowed to make the purchases.
- Employment identity theft
If someone uses your Social Security number in order to obtain a job, this is considered employment identity theft. As this USA Today story points out, “Needless to say, this can cause real problems for your future employment opportunities and various state and federal government agencies. For example, the IRS may demand that you pay taxes for income that the fraudster earned in your name.”
- Social Security identity theft
Criminals can “steal the personal information of Social Security beneficiaries and use that information to attempt to open a ‘my Social Security’ account on the Social Security Administration’s website. If successful, they then use that account to redirect the beneficiary’s direct deposit benefits to an account controlled by the thief,” according to an alert from the Office of the Inspector General about the fraud. Preventing identity theft is just one reason you might want to consider setting up your online Social Security account now. It’s also important to double check that the record of your annual earnings is correct.
- Criminal identity theft
This type of identity theft occurs when someone gives your name and information to law enforcement in place of their own. “It could be anything from a serious crime to a minor traffic stop, but the end result is that your name and data are tied to an open police matter,” according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. This is part of why it’s so important to file a police report if your wallet or purse is stolen. That way if someone down the line does try to impersonate you, you can prove your identity was compromised. Curious about how this can play out? Read a few terrifying real-life criminal identity theft stories.
Did you know the average identity theft victim spends upwards of 200 hours repairing the damage? That’s where LibertyID can help. Our subscribers save themselves massive amounts of time and stress by having our service to rely on when something does happen. If your identity is stolen, we assign you a personal recovery advocate who will clean up the mess, no matter what kind of identity theft nightmare you’re facing.
Are you covered for identity theft?