While authorities, businesses and consumers become savvier when it comes to identity theft, criminals are constantly changing their methods to keep up with changes in technology. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention — instead of disappearing, crime tends to reinvent itself at the first signs of defeat.
Here are three risks everyone should aware of:
The first, credit card theft, tends to be easier to detect and recover from, as long as you are carefully reviewing your credit card statements. Credit cards are simple to shut down and and generally, you aren’t responsible for any errant charges.
The second is thieves that use personal information to take out loans.
According to the Javelin report, victims of loan-related identity theft are more likely to take a year or longer to discover that something is wrong. If someone uses your identifying information to take out a loan you might be hard-pressed to uncover the fraud for months or even years — the time it takes for a lending bank to realize that the identity thief won’t be paying back that loan.
Identity theft protection services don’t all work the same, but by using a reputable credit monitoring service to keep an eye on your credit files, you will receive alerts when certain changes occur. Watch for alerts for credit inquiries from companies you haven’t done business with.
Impersonation theft is also on the rise: According to a 2015 FTC report IRS imposter claims are up by more than 2,300 percent since 2013, with tax id theft complaints topping their charts in 2014. Impersonation theft usually involves receiving a call or an email from a so-called government official, such as an IRS representative. This person many know part or all of your Social Security number and other information and will tell you that you owe taxes or penalties that require immediate payment.
Many people make the mistake of giving bank account or credit card information over the phone. Remember, the IRS doesn’t reach out via telephone or email. They will always send a letter through the mail. If you get a call like this, hang up.
Even as research comes in showing that identity theft might be slowly decreasing, it’s important not to drop your guard. Be proactive about protecting your identity and share what you know with friends and family to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.