What do you think of when someone says identity theft? Often, the first thing that comes to mind is a criminal using someone else's credit card to make purchases after stealing the actual credit card or accessing the credit card information online. This is only one kind of identity theft, and is a part of the larger category of financial identity theft, which may include not only the misuse of credit cards, but also other means of using a stolen identity to procure goods or services. There are many types of identity theft. Another way to steal someone's identity is to pose as that person when apprehended for a crime. Identity cloning means assuming another person's identity in every aspect of daily life, possibly for purposes of immigration. Medically, a person's identity may be taken by another in order to obtain medical care or drugs. Stealing the identity of a child is often very effective because there is no information yet associated with that individual. Often, the perpetrator is a close family member with access to the child's social security number. This kind of theft can go undetected for a long time because the child would not be attempting to access credit, a marriage license or other identity related services. Who knew there were so many ways to have your identity compromised?
Clearly, it is necessary to take steps to prevent identity theft. First, be careful what you share and with whom. The use of social media is very prevalent, however, it is never a good idea to post personal information like your birthday online. If you receive a call from someone asking for sensitive information, even if it is a business you work with often, hang up and call back on a known number for that business. Second, make sure that your valuable documents are secure. You should not carry your birth certificate or social security card unless you know you will need them. They should normally be in a secure, locked location. The same goes for credit and debit cards. Carry them only when you think you will use them. Third, secure your information online. Use anti-virus and anti-malware products such as those available from Identity Guard®. Develop strong passwords that cannot be easily hacked, such as longer words with odd combinations of numbers, letters and special symbols. Last, a comprehensive service such as Identity Guard can be used to give you extra security around your sensitive information to protect your whole identity, not just your credit report and credit score.