Identity theft is defined as a crime that involves stealing a person’s identity to be used by another person for various benefits that might be financial or non-financial in nature. The problem of identity theft is a growing concern all over the world, especially in the US, and everyone is a potential target. Cases have been reported where the victims of identity theft include individuals, organizations, deceased persons and even children. According to the Federal Trade Commission, around 9 million people in the US turn victim to the crime of identity theft every year.
The issue of identity theft is further complicated due to the fact that we live in a digitized world. The IT era has made sensitive information openly available to the public through various sources. With the increased use of social media and digital banking transactions, identity theft is becoming easier to commit, and harder to track.
While you can do some things to minimize the chance of becoming a victim, there are no guarantees. What you can do to help with the financial burden, however, is consider an identity theft insurance policy or endorsing your homeowners insurance with identity theft coverage. Though identity theft insurance may not protect us from the crime itself, it will make things bearable when we have to deal with the added expenses associated with repairing your credit after the crime has been committed.
The Usual Victims
Social Media Users
According to field experts, social media is one of the most significant hunting grounds for identity thieves. Since the main purpose of social media is to share information with large groups of people, it makes it easy for criminals to look for vulnerable targets. Though social media users may not post information such as their credit/debit card numbers or their social security numbers, even regular information such as birth dates, telephone numbers, or an address is all that an identity thief would need to steal someone’s identity.
Status and wealth are also common factors in an identity theft. Identity thieves are constantly on the lookout for vulnerabilities in the habits of wealthy people. Rich people are also vulnerable because most of them do not operate single bank accounts or have single sources of credit. This ultimately results in their information being available from several sources. This provides the thieves with multiple options to work with.
Credit Card Users
Ever since the birth of electronic payments and transactions, identity theft has been witnessing significant growth. The rising number of people who use credit and debit cards for monetary transactions are regularly putting themselves at risk of identity theft. There are many ways in which criminals can steal data from a payment card. One of the basic methods is to physically steal the card and extract the data from it, although it can be done without ever seeing your card as well.
Another way to access information is through data breaches, where the actual target is a payment processor or a store where digital transactions are made. These places keep records of all electronic transactions on servers. When hackers manage to break into these servers, they can access detailed information about every single payment that was made with a card at a particular place.
The use of a data skimmer is also a common method criminals use to steal data from payment cards. The data skimmer can be attached to a POS (Point of Sale) machine and used to “skim” data from the card while a transaction is being made. OR, an unscrupulous cashier can manually use the skimmer when the individual making the payment isn’t looking.
Children are also a growing part of the identity theft population and according to some studies, they are 35 times more likely to be targeted than adults. The number of children being affected has steadily risen over the years. Reports indicate that around 500,000 children fall victim to this crime every year. Identity thieves build credit lines using a child’s stolen personal information.
One of the major sources to obtain information about a child is through his or her social security number, which are given to them at birth. The reason criminals use a social security number is because most children do not possess credit sources such as bank accounts, payment cards, driving licenses, or financial statements. Another reason is that children do not have any credit histories, which results in their social security numbers going unmonitored. So, the theft goes unnoticed until the child turns 18 and by that time, the damage done is extreme and very hard to fix.
The ever-growing problem of identity theft is also attributed to the spread of mobile technology; cell phones in particular. Ever since the advent of smartphones, identity thieves have had access to an almost infinite pool of vulnerable sources. Smartphones, today, are used to carry out pretty much every major transaction known to the average person. People use smartphones to pay their bills, make purchases, transfer money, and pretty much every other form of monetary transaction.
Smartphone users become victims of identity theft when they do not use passwords or other security systems to protect their devices. According to ID theft protection firm, LifeLock Inc., smartphone users have a one-third higher chance of falling victim to identity thieves. These users also do not take care when using free Wi-Fi in public spots, which makes their devices even more vulnerable. Identity thieves are known to set-up fake wireless spots to gain access to mobile devices.
Protection with Identity Theft Insurance
A good way to make things easier while facing identity theft is to have Identity Theft Insurance in place. Having one can make things much easier when dealing with such an issue. It can provide you and your loved ones with support when we need it the most. For further information on ID Theft Insurance Policies, give us a call or request an agent call you.