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Common Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S., and it can happen to anyone. The results can be devastating, including bankruptcy, loss of employment, and even jail time. But by staying vigilant, we can reduce the risk. In this article, we will discuss the most common types of identity theft to look out for.

What Are the Most Common Types of Identity Theft?

Financial identity theft is the most common type of identity theft. This is when someone fraudulently uses your personal information for financial gain. They could make a purchase using your existing debit or credit card information or use your social security number to open new credit card accounts.

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft occurs when someone pretends to be you to get free medical care or medical care that’s covered by your health insurance. It’s the fastest-growing type of identity theft. Beyond the financial implications, medical identity theft can be particularly dangerous because inaccurate information could be added to your medical records. You run the risk of being mistreated or misdiagnosed based on someone else’s information.

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft is when someone pretends to be you when they are arrested or given a ticket. They will often present a driver’s license with your name but their picture on it. Criminal identity theft isn’t very common, but it can result in wrongful criminal records. If you ever believe you are a victim of criminal identity theft, immediately get in touch with law enforcement and provide fingerprints and any identifying documentation to certify that you are not the person who committed the crimes in question.

Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to file a tax return, often for the purpose of receiving your refund. People usually become aware that this has occurred when they go to file their own tax returns and are unable to do so. If you have been a victim of tax identity theft, you will likely be issued a PIN that you will need to use to file your taxes moving forward. Anyone who does not have this PIN will not be able to file taxes using your social security number. 

Fortunately, the incidence of tax identity fraud is on the decline. The Security Summit, a coalition including the IRS that’s designed to fight identity thieves, reported an 80% decline in the number of taxpayers who identified they were victims of identity theft between 2015 and 2019.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft is when someone uses a child’s personal information to commit fraud. It can often go unnoticed because children aren’t regularly checking things like credit reports. Children are at a higher risk of identity theft by someone who knows them and already has access to their personal information such as their parents. Just like adults, children have access to one free yearly credit report from each of the major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Running these annual credit reports is an easy way to stay on top of potential identity theft.

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