Identity theft occurs when a person or group of people steals personally identifiable information such as your name, date of birth, social security number, address, and mother’s maiden name, among other things. Once they have this information, they will pose as you and use it to their advantage without your knowledge.
Recent technological advancements have made it simple to steal your identity. Individuals seeking your personally identifiable information will employ both technological and non-technological methods. The top five ways you could become a victim of identity fraud are listed below.
One of the most common sources of stolen identity information is data breaches, but we’ve written an entire article about them here.
Social engineering is a type of social engineering
When an individual or group of individuals decides to use malicious activities to psychologically manipulate someone and persuade him to reveal personal information, this is referred to as social engineering. First and foremost, the individual will investigate the victim in order to gather as much information as possible. This information will enable him to identify any weak points and other areas that can be exploited in order to gain the victim’s trust. To persuade the victim of their legitimacy, the perpetrator will direct the interactions and fully engage the victim. Once the victim believes they are legitimate, the perpetrator will ask for more information, which will be used to commit identity fraud.
To avoid becoming a victim of social engineering, keep your guard up at all times and follow these guidelines:
- Open emails or attachments from unknown senders.
- Be wary of enticing offers that appear to be too good to be true.
- Make use of multifactor authentication.
- Check that your antivirus software is up to date.
- Theft of a credit or debit card
Personal information on credit and debit cards can easily be used to commit identity fraud if they fall into the wrong hands. Using those details, one can easily open a bank account or obtain a new credit card. The new cards can then be used to make purchases and accumulate charges.
Use the following precautions to keep yourself safe:
In the signature panel on the back of the card, write the initials CID “See ID.” This will necessitate merchants requesting additional forms of identification before authorizing charges.
Every time you make a payment, keep your card in plain sight.
Before using your card on any site, learn how to identify genuine and secure sites.
Don’t give credit card information over the phone.
Attack on a man-in-the-middle
This type of attack occurs when an attacker intercepts communication between two parties by eavesdropping or altering the traffic. The attacker can then obtain sensitive information such as passwords and usernames, as well as personally identifiable information.
A man-in-the-middle attack allows the attacker to disrupt communication or create a bogus network to divert traffic to. The collected data is then screened for valuable information that could be used to steal your identity. Because it is carried out discreetly, this is a difficult attack to detect.
Use the following tips to spot any man in the middle of an attack:
Check your credit card statements on a regular basis to look for any unusual transactions or charges.
Always verify the legitimacy of any website you visit, especially those where you enter personal information.
Schemes of Phishing
A phishing attack occurs when an attacker sends misleading emails to potential victims in an attempt to trick them into providing personal information. The attacker will pose as a genuine person or institution seeking genuine person or institution seeking assistance or wishing to do business with the individual. Despite being one of the oldest cyber-attack methods, it remains one of the most widely used, and the techniques and messages have become more sophisticated. Phishing schemes include the following:
Vishing, also known as voice phishing, is a type of fraud. Instead of sending an email, the attacker calls the victim and pretends to be working for or representing a legitimate company or person. The attack’s main goal is to get the victim to reveal as much personal information as possible. In some cases, the victim will receive a robocall informing him that he has won something and must provide personal information before it is delivered.
Phishing through search engines
The attacker creates a website with absurdly low-cost offers. The website will be indexed by search engines such as Google and Yahoo, making it easier for it to appear in search results. Anyone who visits the website is rewarded with incentives and persuaded to provide personal information in order to take advantage of the offer.
The attacker will pose as a legitimate entity and send victims to spam text messages. The messages appear to be urgent, and the recipient is led to believe that if they do not take action by providing the requested information, they will suffer losses.
Phishing using malware
The attacker creates a malicious program that is disguised as a legitimate program. The program monitors everything you do on your computer and sends it to the attacker.
- To protect yourself from phishing attacks, follow these guidelines:
- Be cautious when downloading and installing software.
- Do not call unknown numbers back.
- Investigate every company that contacts you.
- In the address bar of websites, look for the padlock symbol.
- Personal item theft/dumpster diving/mail theft
The attacker can go through your trash in search of personally identifiable information that can be used to steal the individual’s identity. An individual’s mail or personal items may be stolen in some cases. Depending on what was stolen, the attacker may be able to use the information obtained to steal the person’s identity.
To protect yourself, follow these guidelines:
- Secure your mailbox.
- Shred everything in such a way that it is impossible to read anything.
- If your credit card has been stolen, you must notify the credit card company immediately.
Find out more about how to protect your credit from credit fraud!
Can Identity Theft Affect Your Credit? Here’s How it Can Hurt You
Having your identity stolen is a scary thought that seems all too common these days. What’s really scary about it is what they may be using your identity for and how it can affect you. If someone steals your identity and rents an apartment under your name and then gets evicted, that could affect your ability to rent in the future. They could use your identity for jobs and not pay taxes or get fired which could hurt your employment record and your standing with the IRS. They could even use your information to run up medical or student loan debt.
There are certainly a number of ways that identity theft can affect you but the most common thing affected is your credit. Identity theft can devastate your credit and significantly lower your credit score. This can have a long-term effect on your financial future.
How Identity Thefts Affects Your Credit
Identity thieves will use your information to take out numerous credit cards. The credit inquiries alone, made each time they attempt to open a new account, could take 10 – 20 points off your score. They will max out each credit card they get approved for and never make payments. The credit inquiries, missed payments, increase in debt, and the poor credit utilization (debt to credit ratio) will all damage your credit score considerably.
These actions could make it impossible for you to ever get approved for credit in the future and affect other aspects of your life. Not to mention, the crippling debt that would all be in your name. Identity theft is no joke. Thankfully there are ways to protect yourself against identity theft and repair the damages if it does happen.
To avoid having your identity stolen, you may want to consider identity theft protection. You should also request a copy of your credit report each year to make sure everything is in order and there’s no suspicious activity. Early detection of identity theft can make all the difference.
Need help repairing your credit following an attack from identity thieves? Call Credit Absolute for credit repair assistance.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
You can’t ignore the dangers of identity theft in the digital age. Online management of financial resources has made consumers more vulnerable to hackers and imposters. According to a statement by the Insurance Information Institute, 16.7 million cases of identity theft were reported in 2017. These numbers are not going to decrease any time soon. 30% of US consumers experienced a data breach last year. The US government and consumers should work together to curb the rising crime of identity theft.
What is Modern Day ID Theft?
A data breach or identity theft is an illegal attempt to use someone else’s credentials for fraudulent activities. The US government recognizes identity theft as a Federal crime. Anyone found guilty of identity theft in the US could face jail time of 1-7 years. Identity theft has become a grave concern for consumers. The Consumer Sentinel Network maintains a record of consumer fraud and identity theft in the US. According to them, they received 3 million complaints in 2018 related to identity theft and fraud.
How does Identity Theft Work?
Thieves steal personal data from consumers through various tricks. These tricks range from acquiring bank statements from the mailbox to hacking and online scams. This information gives the thieves access to financial and social accounts of the victims. They use the compromised credentials to gain access to financial accounts.
What is The Use of Stolen Identities
Theives have the intention of using the breached information for fraudulent activities. Imposters use compromised data in the following events.
- Opening of new financial accounts
- Getting access to the existing financial accounts
- Insurance fraud
- Online shopping from victim’s account
- Selling victim’s information in the Black Net
- Using the victim’s identity in criminal activities
Protection from Identity Theft
Identity theft brings a string of interconnected losses and disappointments for victims and their families. It is better to take preventative measures beforehand to protect your data from identity thieves. Identity protection aims to add a series of complicated steps in getting personal information. Remember that identity thieves alway seek easy targets. Anything that does not play by their rules discourages them. You can strategically protect your data by taking these steps.
Use Strong and Different Passwords
Unprotected houses are always robbed first of their valuable items. Similarly, a computer or financial accounts without a strong password attracts identity thieves. A survey report by Experian states that 50% of total US citizens do not add password protection to their digital devices. Lack of password protection makes people an easy target for identity theft.
Moreover, do not make the mistake of using a single password for all of your social and financial accounts. Imposters are going to try their luck on each of your accounts. That is why using different passwords ensures safety to your accounts.
Maintain a Record of Your Financial Activities
Your bank accounts and e-wallets contain your wealth; leaving their activities unrecorded is not a wise move. It is a little difficult for anyone to remember all of their transactions. However, maintaining a record is essential for the protection of your data, and it doesn’t take a lot of time if maintained regularly.
Identity thieves do not make big moves initially. They make gradual advances to take over your financial accounts. A single suspicious transaction can give you a clue of possible theft of your identity.
Avoid Clicking on Malicious Links
Thieves lure their targets by sending them malicious links in emails and text messages. Breached data gives the hackers control of most of your existing accounts. They can also order new services for them by using your name and money. Never enter your login or bank details to an insecure site. Doing so can make access to your information easy for hackers.
Never Give Away Sensitive Information About Your Financial Accounts On Phone Calls
A call from customer service asking for your PIN Code or social security number is an alarm bell. Nowadays, banks educate consumers to avoid giving login details to anyone on a call. A true representative of your financial institution will never ask sensitive information about your financial accounts.
Thieves seeking information pretend to be part of financial institutions. In the case of getting a suspicious call contact your financial institution and report the suspicious call.
Protect Your Documents with Personal Details
Do not leave hard copies of bank statements and credit card details in your mailbox because ID thieves do not spare your mailbox. For tackling mailbox theft, you can instruct your bank to send soft copies of your bank statements. Moreover, by using the option of particular instructions, you can also fix the delivery time of your documents. In short, never give a chance to the thieves to steal away your information.
How Long Does it Take to Fix Credit After Identity Theft?
Identity theft can be devastating. So you are probably wondering, how long does all of this take to fix? You have worked so hard to keep your credit history perfect and all of the sudden; an identity thief ruins it. The question becomes; how long does it take to fix my credit after identity theft?
Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus, touches on this topic on their blog. They say that fixing your credit after identity theft can take anywhere from a few days to several years to fix. Now, I know that is not necessarily comforting information- but the reason it is so broad is that identity theft can take on a variety of forms!
Truly the time period is based on a number of factors. Knowing which of these situations happened in your particular case of identity theft can help narrow down that broad range of time.
How to Determine How Long it Will Take to Repair Your Credit
Here are a few things that affect how long it will take for your credit to bounce back after identity theft:
- Did they use your credit and debit cards?
- Did they use your social security number to open up new accounts?
- How long did it take you to notice and report the theft?
Were cards compromised in the theft?
Since this is the most common way that thieves can gain access to your funds, it seems to be the easiest to resolve. It can be way too easy to lose your credit or debit card, and criminals are way too ready to take your money.
The basics of reporting card theft go like this:
- Contact the card issuer; you can use the phone number on the back of the card to do this quickly.
- Contact the credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax).
- File an identity theft report with the FTC.
- Protect yourself against future incidents
Fortunately, card theft is much quicker to resolve and takes a shorter time for your credit to bounce back from! Though it can be increasingly tedious to report, the disputes are typically resolved faster than bigger losses like new accounts opened fraudulently.
Were new accounts opened fraudulently?
If new accounts were opened in your name, then it can take longer to dispute. The process of closing new accounts, and reporting the fraud can be more time consuming than typical card fraud as mentioned above. This is because there is typically a more substantial loss to you and the institution that loaned out the money. Disputing the accounts opened in your name is the best place to start.
You can get an overview of all open accounts, with a free consultation, by contacting Credit Absolute. This will help you make a list of any accounts you don’t recognize and get to disputing. The same process is followed, of course, when reporting identity theft. Dispute it on your credit report, contact the institution that disbursed the loan, and file a report with the FTC.
This is where the longer time frame comes in when discussing repairing credit after identity theft. It can certainly take longer for disputes to be processed if a new account was involved. Be patient, be methodical about your reporting, and your credit will bounce back in time.
How long did it take to report the theft?
One of the biggest factors that come up again and again when talking about repairing credit after identity theft is the time it takes to report the theft. In other words, how long did the identity thief have access to your information? If you were able to catch it quickly and report it, your credit will be repaired quicker. However, if you did not catch it for a few months, it will take longer to fix your credit.
To wrap things up in a nice little bow, there is no one clear cut time frame that your credit will be completely repaired after identity theft. It can be anywhere from a few days to a few years. But, if you catch it quickly, and the theft amount was lower overall, then you have a much better chance of repairing your credit sooner.
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