What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the misuse of another person’s identifying information. An identity thief uses another person’s Social Security number and other identifying information to fraudulently open new accounts for financial gain. Criminals can use a victim’s identity to work, receive medical care and commit other types of fraud. Account takeover, credit-related fraud and tax fraud are common problems associated with identity theft.
How common is identity theft?
According to recent U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 17.6 million people — or 7 percent of all U.S. residents age 16 or older — were victims of one or more incidents of identity theft. In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen $112 billion (2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research).
What are the different types of identity theft?
- Financial identity theft
- Medical identity theft
- Tax identity theft
- Child identity theft
- Small business identity theft
If my identity was stolen, could I fix the damage myself?
Yes, you could. But you should understand that recovering from identity theft is a long and arduous journey, one that can take up to six months, and sometimes longer. You might have to spend up to 200 hours on the phone with your bank, credit card companies, the three credit agencies, the IRS and other governmental agencies to restore your identity. Remember, those offices are only open during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, when most people have to be at work. Alternatively, if you’re covered by LibertyID, a dedicated specialist will fully manage the identity theft restoration process.
How to protect yourself from identity theft?
To reduce your chance of becoming a victim, learn how to protect your Social Security card, mail, checks, passwords, online activities, and all other personal data. The Federal Trade Commission offers tips on its website, www.consumer.ftc.gov. Unfortunately your actions can only help so much. Companies and even governmental agencies we entrust with our personal information have suffered large-scale data breaches, leaving us vulnerable. Get covered today.