According to recent studies, there were an estimated 16.7 million identity theft victims in 2017. There were also over 1,500 publicly reported data security breaches in 2017 exposing even more people to the possibility of identity fraud or ID theft. As commerce technology evolves, so do the skill sets of the people behind identity theft. Many of these thieves gain access by a variety of digital means like hacking your email or social media profiles. The next thing you know, you are getting mysterious bills in the mail or calls about accounts that you never opened.
Types of ID Theft
There are 5 main types of identity theft that you should keep an eye out for:
- Child ID theft — Your child’s social security number is probably more exposed than you think. School records and medical files are just a couple of places that are often hacked. The sneaky part of child ID theft is that it mostly goes unnoticed for many years, sometimes, until they are an adult.
- Tax ID theft — A thief can use your Social Security number to file fraudulent income tax returns to get a cash payout with the Internal Revenue Service. This obviously begins to complicate things when you try to file your return and leads to an investigation that can take months or even years to clear up the matter.
- Medical ID theft — Health insurance is a major currency in the ID theft market. These people will use your identity obtain medical insurance or to use your policy to pay for their own medical expenses.
- Senior ID theft — Thousands of seniors fall victim to identity theft and fraud every day. They are more vulnerable because seniors are commonly in contact with more people that have access to their sensitive information such as medical professionals and care facilities. Additionally, many scammers target seniors that may be mentally diminished and thus unable to notice the problems.
- Social ID theft — While it may not be a huge financial risk, social media identity theft can cause irreparable damage to your reputation. A thief can use your name, photos, and other personal information to create a phony account on a social media platform.
Protecting yourself from ID Theft
With all these threats, how are you supposed to keep the wolves at bay? There are three simple things you can do to protect you and your family from identity theft.
- Shred mail with sensitive information. Thieves still go through your trash to find your account numbers and anything else they can find. Bank statements, utility bills, and credit card offers are all easy targets.
- Monitor your bank and credit card statements and all three credit bureau reports. If you see anything suspicious, you should contact your bank and the bureaus immediately.
- Subscribe to an identity theft protection insurance plan. These plans are specially designed to monitor your accounts, warn you of potential threats, and usually will help you repair any damage that has been done. They will help work with the credit bureaus, the IRS, and your creditors to clear up any instances of fraud or identity theft. Many employers offer this insurance as a low cost add-on to your benefits package.
Speak to one of our benefit consultants if you are interested in helping safeguard your employees against potential identity theft or would like to discuss any other benefit options for your group.