Types of Identity Theft
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What are some types of identity theft and how can I keep my identity safe from predators?
Finding good information on identity theft starts with knowing the types of identity theft and how it can happen to you. Credit card identity theft, Social Security identity theft, and identity scams provide criminals with a variety of methods to ruin your credit, drain your financial resources, and cause a life-altering circumstance that can sometimes last for years. Here are a few examples of identity theft you may not have thought of:
- Medical identity theft - This crime occurs when someone steals your identification to seek medical treatment, get prescription drugs, or collect money by submitting false medical claims. Since medical identity theft happens to only about three percent of identity theft victims, there is no one specific process for dealing with the problem. The damage can be severe, resulting in charges for medical services and equipment, bungled medical records, damaged credit, and vast amounts of time and energy spent clearing names and records.
- Child identity theft - Social Security identity theft, in general, can be a traumatic experience for victims who are left with the fallout of mounting bills, bad credit, and sometimes false legal charges. Stealing a child's Social Security number can make establishing credit for the victim troublesome, if not nearly impossible. This crime can go undetected for years, and usually isn't noticed until the victim applies for credit upon becoming and adult. Identity thieves use children's Social Security numbers to get driver's licenses, open bank accounts, apply for credit, open utility accounts, obtain jobs, and file taxes.
- Business identity theft - Criminal schemes where businesses are targeted have become a growing phenomenon. One of the most common identity theft stories involving a business goes like this: A pseudo-business rents space in the same building as a legitimate business then applies for credit or purchases goods under the legitimate company's name. The credit cards and/or goods are delivered and the legitimate company is billed because the company name and address match. The criminal goes on a shopping spree and the legitimate business is held responsible.
Knowing what can happen and protecting yourself is the first step in avoiding victimization. Experts recommend keeping your personal information secure, especially when using a computer. Logon to secure Internet sites only, be sure your data is encrypted, use identity theft software, and avoid e-mail 'phishing' schemes or unsolicited e-mail to help keep your identity safe.