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The 8 Types of Identity Theft

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The 8 Types of Identity Theft

Consumers need to know the different types of identity theft, in order to protect themselves, and to know how to react properly if they become a victim.

Getty/Stewart Bremner

There are several types of identity theft. Knowing what to do if you are a victim of identity theft starts by knowing what type of identity theft you are dealing with.

Financial Identity Theft

When we hear the words "identity theft" we usually think of credit reports and bank accounts. This is called financial identity theft. We hear about data breaches like TJ Maxx (47.5 million credit cards) and Heartland Payment Systems (130 million credit cards) regularly. Our faith in our financial institutions is shaken. Some of us are thinking about stuffing our money in the mattress again. If an identity thief gets access to your bank account, you will want to read up on the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA)

Insurance Identity Theft

Your Guide has identified insurance identity theft as a "new" type of identity theft. Although the problem has always existed, it presents specific problems for the victim that must be addressed independently from other types of identity theft. Of course, all types of identity theft have the potential (or even likelihood) of bleeding over into other types. Generally speaking, insurance identity theft tends to be a concern when you are a victim of medical identity theft, and could also show up as financial identity theft.

Medical Identity Theft

The World Health Organization said this is “the information crime that can kill you.” (Read the full publication here (PDF).) It’s not just the most dangerous form of identity theft, it’s also one of the hardest to fix. There are very specific areas you will want to look into when you are a victim of medical identity theft, and they are in general vastly different from dealing with any other type of identity theft.

(As a side-note, there is a lot of misinformation concerning the the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) when it comes to medical identity theft. Keep in mind that, despite the name of the organization, MIB Group has almost nothing to do with medical identity theft – although if you are a victim of insurance identity theft you may want to consider checking your free MIB report.)

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal Identity Theft is just as difficult as medical identity theft in terms of resolving the problem. Like medical identity theft, criminal identity theft has a way of coming back to haunt you, even after you think you have the problem taken resolved. The easiest way to find out if this has happened to you is to get caught speeding. The officer who stops you will run your license and registration. If there are warrants out for your arrest, s/he will give you a pretty set of matching silver bracelets, and free public transportation.

For an example, watch this video from CBS4 in Jacksonville, FL.

When dealing with criminal identity theft, expect a lot of skepticism. Police are told “It wasn’t me” almost every day. It's also worthwhile to know that many states now have specific laws in place to address identity theft.

Driver’s License Identity Theft

This may be the easiest form of ID theft to commit. Your purse/wallet gets stolen, and your driver’s license gets sold to someone who looks like you. Then it’s easy for them to get other forms of ID in your name. This type of ID theft spreads to others, especially criminal identity theft.

Social Security Identity Theft

There are millions of people working in America who don’t want to pay taxes. It may be an illegal immigrant, a deadbeat parent, or a paroled criminal trying to shake their past. Your SSN may be the most valuable piece of personal information a thief can steal.

While the Social Security Administration isn’t required to tell you about all these jobs, the IRS will want you to pay the taxes. This can be a tough battle, too. For a non-government agency, the IRS has unbelievable power. Expect a lot of hoops to jump through here. Although it’s gotten easier over the past few years, the process is still time consuming.

Synthetic Identity Theft

This is the “latest thing” in the ID theft world. The thief will take parts of information from many victims and combine it. The new identity isn’t any specific person, but all the victims can be affected when it’s used. It will show up in the areas above, so look to those sections for additional information.

Synthetic identity theft has also been used to describe any act in which the criminal attempts to convince someone they are another person, real or fictional. This careful wording is no doubt reactionary to the the US Supreme Court ruling that an illegal immigrant has not committed a crime unless he/she knew they SSN they were using belonged to an actual citizen.

Child Identity Theft

Our kids are a big target for identity theft. Child Identity Theft has become a serious concern in recent times, and there are a lot of articles giving widely varying advice concerning the matter. From a practical standpoint, an 8-year-old won’t be looking at his or her credit for at least eight more years, when they decide to get a car and insurance. Sadly, in these cases it is almost always a friend or family member who commits identity theft. This means the parents will usually not want to press charges, and the identity thief counts on that.

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