Identity Theft: Know How To Protect Yourself

You probably hear on the news all the time about people being victims of identity theft. What you may not realize is that identity theft can come in more than one disguise. Below is a list of possible crimes that can be categorized under identity theft.

Credit Theft
Most people are aware of this form of identity theft. This happens when another person uses your data, such as social security number and birth certificate to apply for credit in your name. This can consist of simply opening a credit card account or something as large as buying a house. By the time you know about it, your credit has probably taken a hit due to foreclosure and missed payments. In these tough times, even charges you dispute can wreak havoc on your credit.

Medical identity theft
People desperate for medical care resort to stealing medical information, in particular, medical insurance cards. The thief uses your insurance for tests and procedures and then you get a bill in the mail or a statement from your insurance company on their coverage for this care. Even scarier is that the person who used your insurance may have had blood work done which could result in your record displaying the wrong blood type for you. In an emergency, this can lead to transfusion of the wrong type.

Theft of driver’s license
If you lose your license, it’s possible that someone will try to use it illegally. This person could use it to purchase a motor vehicle. Should the thief be involved in an accident, your DMV record becomes compromised. Having violations, such as speeding or a DUI, could result in suspension of your driving privileges. At worst, it could mean jail time and exorbitant fees if the thief was criminally responsible for an accident.

Social Security theft
There is a huge market for social security fraud in the United States. Illegal immigrants frequently use social security numbers of legal citizens to obtain employment. The person using your information is paying taxes with your credentials. This fact means many investigators lack motivation to go after the criminal.

Character and criminal theft
Another form of identity theft is when a criminal identifies themself as being you. In the event of an arrest, the criminal has no picture ID. The police will enter the name given them, yours, and file the report. This could lead to failing a background check which hurts your character and credibility.

As technology evolves, so do criminals. An important step to take is to review your credit report regularly, looking for inconsistencies. There are services who track your credit transactions, allowing your accounts to be frozen should theft be suspected. To prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, it is a good idea to contact an identity theft service provider.

Matt is a frequent writer about various legal issues. He is well versed in defending identity theft charges in Houston.