Five Most Common Types of Identity Theft

Fri, 04/05/2013

Identity Theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in America.  The scary part is that stolen identification is used on average about 30 times before the victim is even aware of it.  That means the thief can be using your information for a year before you even realize it!

As we have become aware of these frightening facts, we can take measures to protect ourselves from identity thieves lurking about.  To accomplish this, you need to know which types of information is most valuable to the info gathering crooks.

Here are some forms of information we need to keep closely protected:

Driver's license ID Theft

The information on your stolen driver's license may seem non-confidential, but it does provide your name, address, and date of birth, as well as your state driver's identity number. Thieves use this information to help them apply for loans, credit cards, open bank accounts to obtain checking accounts, purchase retail goods, etc. Of course the driver’s license alone may not be enough to achieve the above, but it certainly helps them if they have other pertinent information about you.

Social Security ID Theft

We all know how important our social security numbers are.  It’s used for basically everything we need credit for such as credit cards, utilities services, loans, bank accounts, mortgages, medical services, etc.  It’s what our government and our culture uses to identify who we are.  This is the quintessential gold mine to an identity thief.  With it, he or she can wreak some serious havoc on your life.  It can be used to obtain the obvious such as loans and credit, but it can also be used to obtain false identification cards and passports.  This can cause big problems for you when trying to prove to the government you are who you say you are.  Thus, it goes without saying, be very careful who you give your social security number to, NEVER carry your social security card in your wallet or purse, always keep documentation that has your number like tax returns and financial statements fully protected, and destroy or shred those documents you no long need.  NEVER THROW THEM IN THE TRASH!!  If you do have identification cards such as insurance, medical, banking, etc. that contain you number on it, be sure to fully cross it out before placing it in your wallet or purse.  You don’t want that card falling into the wrong hands if you misplace it.

Medical ID Theft

ID thieves use stolen medical information for all sorts of malicious crimes.  Most commonly, stolen medical information can be used to file false workers compensation claims, schedule surgeries (commonly cosmetic to alter their appearance to avoid being recognized for other crimes they have committed), to file for social security benefits such as disability, obtain medical liability claims, or to actually have medical procedures performed for actual health problems of their own, but foot you the bill when completed.  Make sure your doctor’s office practices secure PHI (protected health information) policies under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  But, it’s not solely at the doctor’s office, health information means any information, whether oral or written is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, employer, life insurer, school or university or health care clearinghouse which relates to the past, present or future physical or mental health condition of an individual.

Character/Criminal ID Theft

May times, identity thieves pose as you when arrested for crimes they commit.  If the crook can provide accurate information about you, the police have no reason at the time of arrest to assume they are lying, thus when you apply for a job or get pulled over by the police for a minor traffic incident, you may find yourself at the local police precinct trying to explain who you are and that you were not that guy who robbed that convenient store last month.

Financial ID Theft

Last but certainly not least is financial ID theft.  This is the most common form of identity theft and it affects millions of Americans every day.  Some examples of financial theft involve accessing and emptying bank accounts or financial holdings, clearing out of safe deposit boxes, stealing off-shore assets, buying and selling of expensive properties not limited to real estate but of automobiles, businesses, boats, land, etc.  Of course the most common is the acquisition of loans, credit cards or credit accounts which are quickly exhausted of their maximum purchasing limits before their thievery is realized.

To help combat this, you need to monitor your personal information closely, such as bank accounts and credit card statements.  Get copies of your national credit reports yearly, change PIN numbers regularly and always destroy information that has your name, address, phone number, etc. before tossing it in the trash.  Junk mail may seem harmless, but it’s just one more piece of information a crook has on you to add to his collection on you.