Identity theft, the crime of using one’s personal information without permission, can place the victim at a severe financial loss. With the data, a thief can drain their target’s wealth by accessing and liquidizing several of their assets. They can also impersonate the individual and commit other crimes that lead to social and emotional repercussions.
Read on to learn more about what thieves can do with stolen records and ways to protect yourself from this type of fraud:
What Thieves Can Do With Personal Info
Open a New Bank Account
Besides making financial transactions with their victim’s existing savings or checking account, the offender can create a new one under the individual’s name. They can use this to get loans for buying expensive goods and services. If they aren’t paid off on time, the credit score lowers. This means that lenders may no longer allow the innocent person to borrow money, and the latter may be denied employment.
Second homes or vacant lots are another common reason why wrongdoers attempt to retrieve personal details. If they’re able to access them, they can create a fake deed that they’ll use to gain ownership of the property. As a result, the rightful owner stops receiving utility bills from that house. And, they’ll be surprised when they find out that it isn’t listed under their name anymore.
Create Fake Documents
Sensitive information, like one’s full name, social security number, driver’s license, and medical history, can be used by malicious people to forge documents. They typically present these counterfeit records when they commit unlawful deeds. So, the crime is charged to the innocent individual instead.
Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Shred Paper Documents You’ll No Longer Use
Keep an eye on hard copies of your personal records, receipts, bank statements, and other files. Don’t leave them in accessible locations, like your mailbox. And, if you won’t use them anymore, shred them before tossing them into the garbage can.
Secure Your Devices
Lock your phone, laptop, and other gadgets with strong passwords, and change them every month. Add a two-factor authentication if this option is available. This way, other people can’t access your devices easily, and you’ll be instantly notified of any attempts.
Add a Fraud Alert to Your Credit Report
This action prompts lenders to confirm your identity before opening a new funds account under your name. If someone else pretends to be you and tries to obtain another credit card, they won’t be able to proceed with the application, and you’ll be alerted of this activity right away.
Get Property Title Monitoring Services
If you have a vacation house or will be out of town for a long time, consider hiring a company that offers property title protection services. They can track the status of your real estate and contact you immediately if there are new activities or changes affecting it.