Identity theft is defined as an organized crime to consciously use someone else’s personal information to commit fraud or to gain a financial advantage, and the victim may have to face the consequences. This type of crime is a major national security threat. The information targeted and stolen could be full names, identification numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account, and credit card numbers, and they could also be electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, and PINs. The identity thief can apply this stolen information fraudulently to file tax returns, claim medical expenses, or even use the information for shopping and transferring money into other accounts. All of this can happen without the owner even realizing that he or she has become a victim of theft. The victim is many times only alerted when getting high bills or being sent to credit collections. Identity theft can be of several types which may include child ID theft, tax ID theft, medical ID theft or senior ID theft, and social ID theft. If a thief steals a child identity, it often cannot be identified until the child grows into an adult. Hence the thieves can benefit from it over many years. Similarly, seniors are vulnerable to this kind of theft as they are more frequently using medical services. Thus false medical billing could be claimed. Lastly, social ID theft is related to social media. For example, someone creates a fake social media account using somebody’s photos, name, address, and other personal information. (USA.GOV, 2018)

For cyber criminals, identity or personal information is as good as gold. An active attempt to protect personal data must be made by strengthening passwords, shredding documents related to banks instead of throwing them into the bins, checking credit reports from time to time, being smart about social media, and monitoring personal financial statements. Identity theft can lead to a bad reputation and in some severe cases even death. Minimize the risk of getting hacked or falling victim to ID theft by taking measures beforehand. Social security numbers should be secured by not carrying it around all the time. Reject any unusual requests asking for any personal information. Credit reports can be frozen by contacting the concerned agencies in case of any potential danger. Mobile devices should be checked too by making sure that security features are enabled.  Store personal information like bank account details, statements, and other sensitive information in a safe place. Even though this crime is becoming more common, there are very few people who take steps to protect themselves against it. People should immediately report identity theft if they have the slightest doubt. Online theft reporting services are also available and are responded to by priority. A lot could be done to restore the identity if stolen, but identity theft is a growing epidemic that warrants immediate action. (Bell, 2017)

To learn more, please contact Abacus CPAs in Springfield, MO at 417-823-7171 or visit www.abacuscpas.com. Better Guidance. Smarter Decisions.

References:

Bell, J. (2017, March 15). Simple Steps To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft. Forbes Technology Council. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/03/15/simple-steps-to-protect-yourself-against-identity-theft/#2d0ee015714e

USA.GOV. (2018). Identity Theft. Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft#item-206115

 

Asma Al-Bibi