Identity theft comes in many forms. Every year, identity thieves steal about $15 billion from people. The following are 5 common forms of identity theft and how you can protect yourself against them.
This common form of identity theft happens when your bank account or credit card information is stolen and used fraudulently. If your financial information is stolen, your bank account may be cleaned out, your credit cards could be maxed out, or the thief might open new accounts in your name. There are many ways for thieves to steal your financial information. A common method is through a data hack of a retailer or other institution that stores your financial information or processes payments. While you can’t do much to stop a data breach, you can protect your information from other sources of theft. Always shred financial and personal information before throwing it away. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Opt out of preapproved credit card offers that can be stolen from the mail. Always monitor your accounts and report any suspicious transactions. You can also place a security freeze on your credit reports, which requires a password before a business can check your credit.
2. Medical and Insurance
It’s common for identity thieves to steal insurance information such as a medical ID number to access medical services fraudulently. Every year, more than 2 million Americans are affected by medical identity theft. Insurance identity theft is a related issue in which your medical insurance is used to receive treatments, which can lead to large medical bills as well as higher insurance premiums. When prescriptions and services become part of your medical record, the care you receive may be affected. You may also get a bill for services you did not receive, calls from a debt collector about an unfamiliar medical debt, or a denial of benefits because your records show a condition you do not have. Do not share your San Diego health insurance or medical information with anyone unless you initiated contact and know exactly who you are speaking to. Be suspicious of “free” health services that request your medical insurance information, even if the caller claims they are from a pharmacy, clinic, or doctor’s office.
Criminal identity theft happens when someone impersonates you to avoid liability for a crime he or she committed. Victims of criminal identity theft may be surprised to receive a fine in the mail or have police arrive to arrest them for a warrant that isn’t theirs. You may never know you were a victim of identity theft unless a background check on you turns something up. The best form of protection is safeguarding your wallet. If your driver’s license is lost, request that the DMV change the license number and mention it may have been stolen. You may also request a new number from the Social Security Administration if your social security card is lost, but never store it in your wallet.
If the IRS rejects your federal tax return, it’s a big warning sign that someone else has fraudulently filed a return using your information. This form of identity theft is used to steal refunds. To avoid a tax scam, be suspicious of texts or calls claiming they are from the IRS. The IRS does not ask for personal information and never threatens legal action. These threatening phone calls often claim you’re in trouble with the IRS in an effort to steal your information. You should also watch for phishing emails that appear to be from your bank or the IRS. Do not click on any links in these emails or provide personal information.
Your child should not have a credit report until he or she is old enough to open a credit account or take out a loan. Children represent the perfect targets for identity thieves because there is a low risk of detection, and they rarely find out about the identity theft until they’re old enough to get a driver’s license or apply for a student loan. There are many ways for your child’s social security number to be exposed, including medical and school records. In many cases, identity thieves are family members who use a child’s identity to open credit cards. When your child’s social security number is paired with a new birth date, thieves can open fraudulent accounts that will probably not be discovered for years.
Be wary of potential identity theft when trying to purchase car insurance in San Diego. Make sure you’re working with a reputable company such as American Tri-Star. We also offer homeowners, commercial, RV, and motorcycle insurance. Call 619-272-2100 for a free quote.