Identity theft has been a threat for many years, but it has become a much larger concern in the age of internet connectivity. The internet has made so many aspects of our lives so much easier, but it’s also made it so much easier for scammers, hackers, and criminals to steal identities.
Identity theft can be devastating, as it allows the thief or thieves to steal all of your life savings, commit fraud, or any other number of things that no one in their right mind would want to happen to them.
In this overview, we will cover what identity theft is, the forms it can take, and then finally go over a few ways that you can protect yourself against it. By the end, you will hopefully have a better understanding of identity theft and be able to put measures in place to ensure you never fall victim to it.
- Key Takeaways
- How Common Is Identity Theft?
- How Does Identity Theft Occur?
- What Are The Warning Signs Of Identity Theft?
- How Should You Respond To The Theft Of Your Identity?
- Is Identity Theft Insurance Really Worth It?
- The Bottom Line: Don’t Let Identity Theft Ruin Your Life
- Where To Sign Up For Identity Theft Protection
- Identity theft is alarmingly common, especially in the US.
- Identity theft can occur in many ways such as via phone and email scams, fake websites, and more.
- You will usually be able to detect identity theft if you start spotting unusual payments you didn’t authorize or notifications from services you didn’t sign up for.
- There are many ways to protect yourself from identity theft. We will go over many of these ways, including using a protection service, freezing your bank account, and filing a report with the police.
- Identity theft insurance is a worthwhile service for anyone.
How Common Is Identity Theft?
The exact numbers for how many identity theft cases there are would be difficult to quantify, as many might go unreported. That said, identity theft is surprisingly common, especially in the US. When it comes to reported cases, most sources indicate that the numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. According to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, over 100,000 cases of identity theft occur every year in the US.
We take a more detailed look at just how common identity theft is here if you would like some more information on the subject.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Identity theft can occur in a huge number of ways. One of the most common ways it can happen is through deception or scams. Someone may pose as a reputable company or service representative, gain your trust, and acquire your information.
It can also occur via fake websites cleverly disguised as the real thing that also get you to enter your information. Often, these tricks can rely on someone not paying attention or not doing the due diligence to make sure that something is legitimate.
Other times, it can also be as simple as someone stealing or forging records in order to commit fraud. With so many ways for identity theft to occur, it can seem impossible to guard against it, but there are a few ways to fight back. We will cover some of these as we move through the article.
In this past overview, we have also covered what exactly identity theft is. You can check that out for more information on what exactly identity theft entails.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Identity Theft?
When it comes to identity theft, the earlier you can spot it, the better. That’s why you should monitor your records and transactions, as you need to look out for anything that seems off or suspicious.
This could be in the form of bank transactions you didn’t authorize or maybe the creation of documents you never signed or initiated. The warning signs can be small and subtle, but they’re usually there if you’re paying attention.
For a more comprehensive look at this subject, check out this overview on how to spot some of the warning signs of identity theft.
How Should You Respond To The Theft Of Your Identity?
As we’ve covered, avoiding identity theft is a good idea, but sometimes it can occur no matter how careful you are. If that happens, there are a few ways that you can respond to the identity theft and try to mitigate the damages. In the following list, we will look at a few ways that you can fight back against identity theft.
For a more in-depth look at specific ways to deal with it, you can check out this past article on how to report identity theft.
1. Contact Your Identity Theft Protection service or Other Insurance Providers
While the fight against identity theft can seem like a helpless cause, there are services that you can use to protect yourself. We have previously looked at some of the best services for this purpose. For example, Identity Force is a service with different tiers that offer protection against some of the most common forms of identity theft.
If you detect traces of identity theft, then alerting your identity theft protection service or appropriate insurance providers will allow you to get help from them.
2. Freeze Your Credit Report with All Three Bureaus
If you spot anything off with your credit report and other transactions, then you should definitely freeze your credit report with all three major credit bureaus. If you’re using a service like Identity Guard, then they can not only help you detect this but can also help you in the next steps.
3. File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Another step that can be taken is to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Contact details can be found easily online, and it’s an important step to prevent further damages or negative impact on your credit score.
4. Look for Suspicious Activity on Your Credit Report
As we touched on earlier, vigilance can be one of the most important aspects of preventing identity theft. It can be easy to be complacent and not look too closely at your credit report, but it’s important to look out for any discrepancies.
5. Check Your Bank Account Statements for Signs of Fraud
Similar to the previous point, it can be really easy to ignore bank account statements and not notice small discrepancies. These discrepancies can be one of the first signs of fraud, so you should definitely keep an eye on all of your account statements.
6. Get In Touch with Companies Where Fraud Occurred
If you have detected fraud with companies or services you either do or don’t typically use yourself, then you should contact the specific companies and alert them to the fact that the recent activity was not authorized by you.
7. Report Fraudulent Transactions and Accounts
Leading on from the previous point, you should also report any financial transactions or new accounts that you did not initiate or authorize. Stopping these fraudulent transactions and accounts can be the first step towards minimizing the impact of identity fraud.
8. Contact Debt Collectors and Stop Them From Damaging Your Credit Score
If you spot suspicious activity that could damage your credit score, then you need to put a stop to it as soon as possible. Once you have contacted the other relevant services, debt collectors can also be contacted to sort out the issue of your credit score being impacted by fraud.
9. File A Report With Local Police
In some worst cases, identity theft can lead to not only theft and fraud but also threats to your safety. If your sensitive information is stolen or leaked and it could lead to threats against you, then you should file a report with your local police department.
10. Secure Your Online Accounts With 2FA and Change Your Passwords
Keeping your accounts secure can be important in keeping yourself safe from fraud and identity theft. One of the easiest things you can do is to frequently change your passwords and make each one unique. You can also use two-factor authentication (or 2FA) to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
11. Scan Your Devices for Malware and Other Viruses, Consider A VPN
Identity theft can sometimes occur thanks to malware and viruses infiltrating your devices and letting people access your information. Using a VPN is a great way to not only make your browsing and internet usage more secure, but it can also help to prevent identity theft and fraud.
When it comes to VPNs, you have various options to choose from. Nord VPN is one of the best we’ve looked at, but there are also solid options such as Atlas VPN and Express VPN. Each option has its pros and cons, so we recommend checking the features of each one to determine which is the best for you.
Additionally, investing in an antivirus or cyber security program like Norton Lifelock can be incredibly useful to protect against viruses and malware.
12. Replace Any Lost or Stolen Documents and IDs
If your documents or ID details are stolen or otherwise acquired, you should act fast and get them replaced as soon as possible so that the originals can’t be used for any illicit purposes.
13. If You Haven’t Already, Sign Up for Identity Theft Protection
Various services have been created that specifically protect against identity theft. We have covered a few different examples already in this article, but to summarize, we have a few recommendations.
Aura is a popular service we have often been impressed by. Additionally, you have Identity Guard, one of the top services in the field that offers different tiers and services. Finally, Identity Force is another great option to consider. As with our VPN recommendations, we recommend checking out the pages for each of these to determine which would be the best for you.
Is Identity Theft Insurance Really Worth It?
Two things about identity theft that are true would be to say that it is becoming more and more common and that it can be devastating to your life if it occurs. For that reason, having identity theft insurance is always a good idea. You will hope to never need it, but you’ll be glad to have it if you ever become a victim of identity theft, as it will help you mitigate any losses or damages.
The Bottom Line: Don’t Let Identity Theft Ruin Your Life
We have spoken a lot about how much of a threat identity theft and fraud can be. It can sound scary and helpless, but the point of this article wasn’t to be a horror story to keep you up at night. The main point we wanted to emphasize is that even though identity theft is a huge concern and can be devastating, you’re not helpless against it.
If you’re worried about identity theft, then staying vigilant is the best thing you can do. Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity over your accounts and services you use, and then act fast if you spot anything suspicious.
If this sounds overwhelming, then there are plenty of services that can do the hard work for you, and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. They can even help you deal with the aftermath of identity theft and even provide insurance to deal with the effects.
If you stay vigilant, report any discrepancies early, and use services designed to help you, then we’re confident that you will be much safer against the dangers of identity theft. There are certainly ways to take back some power and ensure that you don’t become another victim.
Where To Sign Up For Identity Theft Protection
If you would like to sign up for identity theft protection, we would recommend the services of Aura, Identity Guard, and finally Identity Force. In our experience, these are some of the best services to provide identity theft protection.
If you click on any of the links we provided, you will be able to view what is on offer, features you can take advantage of and tiers of their services to choose from. You will then be able to sign up for whichever service looks most well-suited to you and your situation.