The theft of a victim’s personally identifiable information (PII), such as their name, address, or Social Security number, or other identifying information obtained from their credit card or medical insurance accounts, is referred to as financial identity theft.
Thefts of personal and financial information may be committed using a wide variety of methods, both high-tech and low-tech, which are accessible to identity thieves. Criminals that steal identities use a wide variety of strategies. This could involve technical plans in addition to non-technological ones. In this article, we will discover the new ways through which scammers try to trick innocent individuals and become successful in financial identity theft.
Financial Identity Theft: What is it and What is the Current Situation?
Theft of one’s financial identity occurs when another person conducts financial fraud using the individual’s personal information without the agreement of the individual.
This may happen in a variety of different ways, such as by utilizing the information from your bank account or credit card, obtaining a loan in your name, or creating new accounts using your Social Security number. Your personal information might be stolen in a number of ways, including via data breaches, phishing operations, or simply by going through your trash and searching for sensitive documents.
The situation involving the theft of financial identities currently
In today’s society, there are a few different situations that might lead to your identity being stolen for the sake of financial gain.
- Phishing is a sort of identity theft in which an imposter pretends to be a reputable company in order to trick you into handing over sensitive information about yourself, such as your bank account or credit card. They may accomplish this goal by sending you an email that seems as if it was sent by your bank, or they could construct a fake website that pretends to be a legitimate financial institution.
- Skimming refers to the process by which a thief uses a small device to copy the information from the magnetic stripe that is located on your credit or debit card. After that, they may create a copy of your card using the information they obtained and use it to make unauthorized transactions.
- Looking through your trash and waste – thieves will go through mail and rubbish in order to locate personal information, such as bank and credit card statements, that may be included in such documents.
- Data breaches put customers’ personal and financial information at risk of being obtained by criminals. This information might be purchased by criminals from shady people on the dark web or from sources inside the organization.
- When it comes to carrying out criminal activities, criminals have a wide variety of methods at their disposal.
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How Does Financial Identity Theft Happen
There are several variants of identity theft in the financial sector, including the following listed below.
Your credit card information might be used to make fraudulent transactions if thieves get a hold of it. Even crooks adore online shopping. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, unfortunately, this issue has grown more common as a consequence of people purchasing things over the internet.
Hackers pose a risk of stealing money from bank accounts. There are occasions when the total is simply a few dollars, giving the impression that it is unimportant. However, if they commit their crimes against a sufficient number of people in this way, the criminals might inflict damages worth millions of dollars.
Criminals might take information such as your Social Security number and other details to set up new accounts in their names. Someone else may, for instance, establish a new credit line using the information that you provide. After then, they will use up all of the remaining credit, leaving you responsible for payment.
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How To Prevent Financial Identity Theft
We log into our online accounts and conduct other routine tasks almost every day using personal information such as passwords and account numbers. Unfortunately, whenever we share this information with others, there is always a chance that it may be misappropriated in some manner. To reduce the possibility of having your identity stolen, all it takes is a few simple precautions on your part.
Participating in a program that offers protection against identity theft is the most effective measure that can be taken to assist prevent identity theft. Even while an identity theft protection service cannot prevent identity theft from happening, it can alert you immediately if it does so that you can limit the damage and get your life back on track.
Your personal information may be better protected if you pay for identity theft protection on a recurring basis (either monthly or annually). It is possible for memberships to include monitoring of a variety of different items, including credit reports, bank accounts, health information, activity on social media platforms, the dark web, and more. Identity theft protection companies also provide recovery services in the event that the information relating to your identity is stolen.
Some of them provide you access to legal counsel or private investigators and provide identity theft coverage of up to one million dollars, all of which may assist you in re-establishing your reputation and credit. The majority of them will also provide you access to a dashboard via which you can monitor your notifications and get in contact with customer service in the event that fraud is discovered.
In addition to enrolling in a program that protects against identity theft, there are additional steps you may take to assist in the prevention of identity theft. These include the following:
1. Put a hold on using your credit.
If your credit file is frozen, no one will be able to access it or submit a request for a credit report on you. Because of this, during the time that your credit is frozen, nobody—including you—will be able to open a new account, make an application for a loan, or get a new credit card.
In order to put a freeze on your credit report, you will need to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You may put a freeze on your account via the credit bureaus’ websites, over the phone, or by sending them a letter. After that, they will provide you with a personal identification number (PIN) or password that you may use at a later time to temporarily lift or suspend the credit freeze. The act of placing a freeze on your credit report does not impact your credit score and does not cost you anything.
Freezing their children’s credit files requires serious consideration from parents. A study that was conducted in 2021 by Javelin Strategy & Research found that the cost of juvenile identity theft to American households was close to one billion dollars annually. A data breach caused the personal information of 1 in 45 children in the United States to become public. These children were among the 1 in 50 children in the nation who fell victim to identity theft. It’s possible that an average family may spend more than $1,000 on this.
2. The gathering of mail on a daily basis
Not all instances of identity theft include advanced technology. A criminal may steal your identity in a variety of methods, one of the easiest of which is for them to take your mail out of your mailbox.
The following are some examples of sensitive papers: credit card statements, utility bills, tax forms, offers for pre-approved credit cards, and any other documents or items that include personal information. In addition, you have the option of submitting a request to alter your address under your own name in order to have your mail redirected. Take note of any expected mail that does not arrive, and if possible, have someone else pick up and keep your mail while you are away.
3. Make it a habit to review your recent bank and credit card statements regularly
According to research conducted by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, the kind of identity theft that occurs most often is fraud committed against credit card companies.
One of the most effective ways to protect your identity from being stolen is by making it a habit to regularly examine your credit card and banking statements for activity that you do not recognize. It’s likely that a thief is using these inconspicuous transactions as a test to see whether you’ll notice their absence. If neither you nor your financial institutions notice anything suspicious about the transactions, the thief will undoubtedly try to make more costly transactions. Learn when you should generally get statements, and then check to see if any of them are overdue.
4. Shred any documents that contain sensitive personal information before throwing them away
Although it may seem archaic in light of the abundance of phishing techniques and data breaches on the internet, identity thieves still engage in the practice of dumpster diving in order to get personal information. Some people may be looking for furniture or valuables, while others may be trying to steal your data. It’s possible that both groups are there.
Keep a few months’ worth of personal information-containing documents, such as utility bills, credit card and bank statements, letters from the Internal Revenue Service, and other correspondence, in a safe or secure location. Shred whatever is left over. Bagdasarian asserts that he deletes his three most recent bank statements and replaces them with new ones every month, after which he stores the deleted statements in a safe place.
5. Create passwords that are unique to each of your accounts
According to the FTC, a secure password is one that is long, challenging, and unique to the user. Employing a trustworthy password manager will make it much simpler to generate distinct passwords for several accounts. Avoid using information that may be used to identify you, such as your birthday, initials, or Social Security number. This also includes other components of your name.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology both recommend using passwords of at least 15 characters since it makes it more difficult for a computer program or a hacker to figure out the password.
Instead of using information that may be obtained online, such as your ZIP code, birthplace, or mother’s maiden name, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you use security questions to which only you have the answer. When asked what your favorite kind of dessert is, you should try to avoid replying with clichés like “chocolate.”
Resolving Financial Identity Theft
In the event that you suspect that your financial identity has been stolen, taking quick action is very necessary. The following is what you should do:
- Visit the website IdentityTheft.gov, which is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission, to get assistance in filing a complaint of identity theft and building a personalized recovery plan.
- Get in contact with your bank, as well as any other financial institutions or credit card firms you use, so that you may close any compromised accounts or make changes to them.
- Changes should be made to the PINs and passwords of any accounts that were compromised.
- Contact the credit bureaus if you want to put a freeze on your credit or add a note about being a victim of fraud.
- Moreover, you can even reach out to our asset recovery agents to help you out, all you have to do is fill out our online form and a Global Payback representative will reach out to assist you.
Theft of one’s identity may cause an astounding amount of damage. What’s worse is that it’s not an isolated incident very often. About a third of all victims of identity theft are people who have been victimized more than once. If you want to safeguard your whole family from having their identities stolen, you need to take preventative measures. The Global Payback is here to help you in your time of need!