Identity theft is very serious.
It can occur in several ways and may lead to an individual losing thousands of dollars and ruining their hard-earned credit score.
There is plenty of information about identity theft, what it is, and what sort of people try and steal people’s data.
However, there is very little information online about how you should report identity theft! You need to take many steps and various people and companies you need to contact.
This article will dive a little deeper into the signs of identity theft, types of identity theft, and how to report each type.
What is Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone gets their hand on personal information like your social security number. They use this information to commit fraud in several ways.
An identity thief may choose to use your data to apply for new lines of credit, get access to medical services under your name, or file for taxes.
All of these actions can harm your credit score significantly, not to mention cost you time and money. It can take a long time to rectify changes that hackers can make in a matter of minutes and could leave you out of pocket, trying to rebuild your credit from scratch.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
There are so many ways to be affected by identity theft that you might not even notice straight away in some instances! Here are some of the main ways you could end up being the victim of identity theft.
Bills for Goods or Services you Didn’t Purchase
Firstly, you might start to see random purchases on your credit card bills. At first, it can be easy to pass these purchases off as things you bought and don’t remember purchasing.
However, it would be best not to dismiss these purchases so casually. Look deeper at any purchase you don’t recognize on your bill; you might be getting hacked.
Unexpected Debt Collection Calls
Another tell-tale sign that you are the victim of identity theft is if you start receiving unexpected calls from debt collectors, enquiring about accounts that you didn’t open.
Don’t pass these calls off as cold calls from spammers. It might be the case, but it might also be the case that someone has taken a loan out under your information, and they are missing payments, which has led to debt collectors being called in.
These calls are a massive red flag that you have been hacked, and you should act immediately.
You Get Denied for Loans
Before applying for any loan, you should take your time checking the terms and conditions to make sure you will be accepted when you apply.
However, if you follow that rule and still get declined, something more could be occurring. Ask the lender for more details about why you were rejected, and be sure to check your credit score immediately.
If you have been hacked, someone might have taken loans out under your name, and each time they miss a payment, your score will drop. If this has occurred, your credit score may be much lower than you thought it was, and you need to act fast.
Potential Victims of Identity Theft
Ultimately, everyone is susceptible to identity theft. We can all get caught out on any given day, and provide hackers with access to our details, that they can use to impersonate us fraudulently.
As soon as you think you are too smart to be hacked, you become more susceptible. Overconfidence can be your downfall, and with new hackers and technology coming to the fore every day, you might not be as impenetrable as you think.
That being said, two groups of people are particularly vulnerable to identity theft.
Firstly, child identity theft. This type of theft can occur and not be detected for years! Children very rarely, if ever, check their credit score and so might not be aware of identity fraud until they become adults and start applying for loans.
Children are also more susceptible to phishing emails and messages online, as they are more naive on the internet, generally speaking.
Another vulnerable group is seniors. Seniors tend to be much more willing to offer their personal information online. They are much more trustworthy and did not grow up using the internet as young adults. Therefore, often they do not appreciate how hackers can use the information they provide to steal their finances from them.
Types of Identity Theft
There are lots of types of identity theft that can impact you. Here are some of the most common ones.
Credit Card ID Theft
Firstly, identity hackers will steal your credit card information to take out new lines of credit fraudulently. They take out large loans with no intention of paying them back. This type of theft leaves you with large debts and a poor credit rating.
Tax ID Theft
Tax identity theft occurs when a hacker uses your social security number to falsify your tax returns fraudulently. This redirects any tax returns you might have received to the hacker instead.
This type of fraud is hard to detect, as money never leaves your account directly. You might only notice this theft if you are contacted by a government official and made aware of it.
Medical ID Theft
Another form of identity theft is medical ID theft. This occurs when someone takes your health insurance member number of medicare ID. This information is used by hackers to access medical services under your name or claims fake bills with your health insurer.
Unemployment ID Theft
Finally, there is unemployment ID theft. This occurs when cybercriminals use personal data to receive unemployment benefits. This technique is tricky for you to detect, as no money ever leaves your account.
How to Report Identity Theft
Differences in Identity Theft Reporting
There is one significant difference between reporting identity theft via your phone or online. If you report the fraud by phone, you will not receive an identity theft report. However, if you register the fraud online, you do receive one.
An identity report can be essential when claiming insurance on any money stolen from you. It also helps when you report the theft to the police.
When to Report Identity Theft to the Police
Alongside reporting identity theft online and with any insurance companies you work with, you should also submit a police report for the theft.
Insurance companies will often require you to file a police report as part of their investigation, so if you don’t, you may risk not getting your payout.
Not only that, but if you are a victim of identity fraud again in the future, you already have a police report for the police department to refer back to.
Who to Report Identity Theft to
When an identity thief targets you, there are other organizations you need to contact.
Major Credit Bureaus
Start by contacting one of the leading credit bureaus. These bureaus will put freezes on your accounts to make it hard for identity thieves to get access.
You should also gather copies of your reports to check that no one has already fraudulently attempted to get credit accounts with your data. The bureau you contact should contact the other two on your behalf.
Next, contact the fraud department at the bank, any credit card issuers, or other places you have financial accounts.
State Attorney General Offices
Depending on which state you live in, your attorney general could provide checklists, tops, or provide you with other help regarding identity theft.
You might also need to acquire new personal identification cards.
What Do Identity Theft Insurance Companies Provide?
For starters, identity theft insurance companies offer you detailed, insightful, and in some cases 24/7, customer support!
Unlike regular police officers, these customer service support staffs are well-versed experts in cyber theft and are much better placed to help you in your hour of need.
Not only that, but their entire job is to handle issues such as identity theft so that they can dedicate much more resources to your queries or concerns than the police.
Alongside excellent customer service, services also offer you fraud alerts, making it much easier to catch identity theft before the damage is too bad.
You can set a fraud alert up to notify you when some suspicious activity occurs, and your social security number may be at risk. In some cases, companies even have a free app that you can download, where you can receive these alerts on the go and keep an eye on your credit reports.
Acting quickly is one of the most important ways to combat cybercriminals before they manage to infiltrate your accounts. That is why fraud alerts are so beneficial.
Fast Freeze Support
Insurance companies are much quicker at freezing your credit report than if you do it manually. This is a great benefit, as the sooner you can freeze your credit, the sooner you can prevent hackers from getting access to your accounts.
While freezing your account does not prevent cybercriminals from getting access to your funds, but it makes it much trickier.
Companies such as Life Lock offer a “Credit Lock” option, which is even quicker than a credit freeze! Credit locks are also much faster to lock and unlock, providing you with more flexibility.
Finally, having identity theft insurance provides you with peace of mind. If you are an identity theft victim, it can leave you feeling anxious, stressed, and constantly checking your bank statements.
With identity theft insurance, you can rest easy, knowing that even if the worst-case scenario occurs, you are covered. Some of the leading identity theft insurers offer as much as $1 million in theft insurance!
In summary, identity theft is not something that should be taken lightly. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with empty bank accounts and ruined credit history.
Fraudulent activity should not be ignored, and you should immediately start taking action, contacting credit reporting agencies, organizing replacement cards, even reporting it to law enforcement.
Suppose you want to make sure you are best placed to tackle identity thieves head-on, shut down fraudulent accounts, protect your credit records, and avoid tricky dealings with debt collectors.
In that case, I suggest you research and select an identity theft insurance company that suits your needs.