Identity theft happens when someone’s personal information, such as a license, home address, credit card, name or Social Security Number (SSN) is stolen. Thieves often take people’s personal information for financial reasons. Personal information is usually stolen to open credit cards, open bank accounts, take money, file tax returns or make health insurance claims. As a result of identity, many people’s credit scores suffer.
Personal information can also be sold. Many people access hundreds of people’s personal information and sell them to others. In return, the person who now holds the personal information may use it for the above reasons.
To understand what to do if your identity is stolen, it may help to learn how it was stolen in the first place. Here’s what you should know:
How are identities stolen?
The most basic way someone may steal someone else’s personal information is by taking a physical driver’s license or credit card. These may give people just enough information to take advantage of others.
Another classic way people lose their personal information is through scam calls and emails, such as the Nigerian prince scam. Scam calls and emails often target older people and people who don’t understand how their personal information can be used by others. A scammer may trick someone into giving up their social security number or credit card info through scare tactics.
Identity theft is a growing issue as many people have their personal information stored somewhere online. Mass data breaches often expose thousands of people’s personal information at once.
What are my next steps after an identity is stolen?
Identity theft can be costly for victims. Many banks and credit card companies investigate identity thefts, which can help victims get their money back. Some victims have to take legal action to help prevent further transactions.