Many Americans understand the concept of identity theft, but not the factors that increase their chances of becoming a victim of it. According to The Federal Trade Commission, up to 9 million people experience some form of identity theft every year. Meaning, identity thieves are getting better and better at taking our assets. In this digital world, there are more ways for criminals to steal your identity as opposed to 10 years ago. Scams like Craigslist, LetGo, and Nigerian emails are plaguing our society. To prevent this from happening to you, you should know the types of identity theft.
Types Of Identity Theft
- Driver’s License Theft
- Tax Identity Theft
- Social Security Theft
- Criminal Identity Theft
- Medical Identity Theft
- Insurance Identity Theft
- Child Identity Theft
Factors That Increase Identity Theft
1. Key Demographics
With billions of people in this world, there are plenty of identities for thieves to choose from. However, certain identities are more alluring to scammers than others. The key demographics for identity theft are young, old, educated, and rich. Meaning children, senior citizens, young adults, and well-off individuals. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. Children use their parent’s credit cards to make purchases and tend to be careless about their personal information. Making it easy for thieves to scam them into giving their parents credit card information. All they have to do is impersonate a trustworthy adult or child online.
Senior citizens are one of the most targeted age group. This is because many of them have large amounts of savings and retirement accounts. Many of them are naive to the scams that exist today. Seniors are more likely to fall for scammers impersonating credit card companies. Young adults are targeted but for the opposite reason. Young adults are just starting to build their credit and are still learning about financial situations. They are less likely to notice fraudulent activity on their card or a small amount of money missing. Meanwhile, a senior that has been reviewing credit card statements for years would notice it.
2. Your Location
Identity thieves look to specific states to perform their theft. Lower crime areas have a lower risk of identity theft, so they turn to higher crime areas. Companies such as Experian have analyzed identity theft and saw a correlation between theft and crime-ridden areas. In certain states, your risk of being affected by identity theft can double in comparison to others. While this doesn’t seem all that surprising, it doesn’t mean you’re safe because you live in a lower crime area. The states most affected by identity theft are:
3. A Major Life Event
When people experience major life changes such as buying a house or having a child, they are filling out a lot of paperwork. Whether for insurance or creating new bank accounts, your personal information is going out into a public records directory. Purchasing a house requires a large number of funds which also draws an identity theft in. Even if you’re providing your name, address, and credit card information to reputable companies, data breaches can and do occur. So, all that information given to a large database is now in the hands of cybercriminals. You can’t stop yourself from living life, but take safety precautions when doing so.
4. Your Social Security Number
A person’s social security number is one of the most valuable assets they have to a thief. In comparison to a credit card, for example, this is much harder to replace. You should have your social security number memorized and not have your card on you. If you can remember a phone number, you can remember your social security number. The risk of having your card fall out of your wallet is not worth it. Remember that your number may be listed on other legal documents so be careful with those as well.
5. If Your Data Has Been Breached
The more times your personal data has been breached, the easier it will be for cybercriminals to get it. Once your information is leaked, it only draws other identity thieves to it. There are tools online to see if your data has been breached, but make sure to use trusted and reputable ones. The last thing you want to do is enter your personal information into an impersonation site. Criminals will create sites that look identical to the actual site, and then people put their information in as normal. It has been done before and will continue to be that way for people’s identities to be stolen.
How To Prevent Yourself From Becoming A Victim
The main way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft is by making smart decisions. Be careful with who you give your information to. Make sure they are trusted individuals and your information is recorded securely. Another way to prevent theft is by ignoring unwanted phone calls from suspicious numbers. Once someone has you on the phone, they can threaten your family for money. Even though it is more common for your money to be taken without your knowledge, this still happens. Young adults and seniors are especially prone to this type of theft.
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