Identity theft has been a hot topic of conversation in recent years. Essentially, identity theft occurs when someone assumes the identity of another person by taking possession of their personal identifying information such as their name, address, Social Security Number, credit card information or driver’s license information. Identity thieves use this information for nefarious purposes, taking advantage of the victim on numerous levels.
Identity theft isn’t just one singular crime, however. There are several different types of identity theft of which citizens should be aware. Knowing these things exist is the first step in protection oneself from becoming a victim.
Financial or Credit Identity Theft
Victims of financial/credit identity theft may find that their information has been used to obtain loans or other financial services. Thieves obtain credit cards, loans and even mortgages using the person’s personal information – and then does not make the payments. They culprit can also use the information to obtain government benefits, write bad cheques, open a bank account and more. The result could be financial ruin for the victim, from loss of money to credit damage and even the loss of their home.
Medical Identity Theft
This occurs when a thief uses the victim’s information to illegally obtain medical insurance, medical are or prescription drugs. Misuse of that information can make health coverage difficult or impossible for the victim to obtain, and they could risk losing their current coverage because false information (provided by the thief) will be on their medical record. Even more serious, medical identity theft can result in the misdiagnosis or treatment of the victim, because the treatment would be based on inaccurate information. Here is more information on madical identity theft.
Criminal Identity Theft
This is when the thief steals the victim’s personal information and uses it to obtain false credentials. The credentials are then used to commit illegal acts. Even if he is caught in the illegal act and arrested, the charges will not show up on his criminal record; they will show up on yours. Warrants could be issued for your arrest, you could be detained and even spend time in jail for a crime you didn’t commit. This type of identity theft is hard to explain, rectify and stop, because your identification has been used by someone else.
Synthetic Identity Theft
This is a relatively new type of identity theft. In this type of theft, a criminal impersonates a person that is an amalgam of the identities of several people whose identities they have stolen. In some cases, they will steal the actual SSN of a victim and then fabricate other details or steal various piece of information from several real people to create a whole new identity. Read more on synthetic identity theft here.
Child Identity Theft
Children are an easy target for identity theft because they are unaware that anything untoward is happening behind the scenes and also because the theft is often not discovered until the child is older. Young children don’t typically have bank accounts, insurance and other things that can be stolen, but they do have Social Security Numbers that can be stolen. The sad thing about this type of theft is that it’s often a family member who steals the information – someone who has easy access to it.