If you’ve ever gotten a call from your credit card company checking on potentially fraudulent charges, you may think hackers are primarily focused on plastic.
However, while most data breaches expose credit card numbers, there are several other ways thieves are able to steal your personal information, including accessing business accounts and medical records, and obtaining your Social Security number.
In 2018, the number of exposed consumer records that contained personally identifiable information jumped to 446.5 million from 197.6 million in 2017, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
This is the most common type of identity theft, in which a thief uses a stolen account number to initiate a “takeover” of your account.
New Account Fraud
In this case, identity thieves use your Social Security information to open new accounts, including lines of credit, loans—even utilities.
Tax ID Theft
Here, an identity thief will use your Social Security number to falsely file your income taxes with the goal of receiving a refund. The most threatening types of tax fraud include:
Avoid the possibility of tax fraud by filing your taxes as early as possible—if you get a notification that your return has already been filed, chances are your identity has been stolen.
To further protect yourself against all types of identity theft, the IRS recommends you:
Medical ID Theft
While less common, this occurs when someone steals your Medicare ID or accesses your health insurance member number. They then use your account to see doctors—or to submit fake bills to your health insurer.
You’ll know if you’re a victim if you receive medical bills or insurance claims for doctor visits or procedures you didn’t have. Stay protected by:
Social ID Theft
Chances are you’ve had a friend warn you on Facebook to not accept a new friend request from them. This is likely because someone has used their name and photos to create a fake social media account.
Why do this? By posting as you, thieves can trick your friends and family into divulging your sensitive personal information, which they can then use to commit other types of fraud.
You can lower your risk by:
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