Identity Theft: What You Need to Know

In 2017, 14.2 million had credit card numbers exposed and 158 million had Social Security numbers exposed. Totaling 1,579 data breaches, 2017 had a 389% increase in records exposed in comparison to 2016. In 2018, 3 million identity theft and fraud incidents were reported. Of those, 1.4 million were fraud-related and 25% reported lost funds.

After reading these scary statistics about the true severity of identity theft and fraud in the United States, it is imperative to take the initiative in protecting your identity. Did you know that where you live geographically can influence the likelihood of your experience with identity theft or fraud? Here is some important information you should know about common identity theft practices.

Identity Theft by State

By state, Michigan, Florida, and California are the most representative of identity theft victims. Likewise, credit card fraud was the leading form of identity theft for Florida and California. Credit card fraud is when a credit card is used to purchase items without the cardholder’s permission, or a new account was opened in the victim’s name that the victim did not authorize. Michigan’s identity theft stemmed from government documents or benefits fraud, with employment or tax-related fraud being the second most common identity theft method.

Maryland and Nevada followed in states with leading identity theft. Credit card fraud was the most common form of identity theft, followed by employment or tax-related fraud for both states.

Identity Theft by Method

Credit card is one of the most common forms of identity fraud and theft. There are many different techniques for which thieves obtain your account or card information. Mail theft or fraud, card skimmers, and tax-related theft or fraud are all common ways credit card theft and fraud can occur. For example, card skimmers can be found on ATMs, gas pumps, and other transaction-related devices. One way to avoid card skimmers is to familiarize yourself with what they look like and how they’re applied. Another way is to use apps like Apple Pay or contactless cards, which have a chip inside them that emits radio waves to RFID readers.

Tax is already a complex topic and something most people dread every year. Unfortunately, tax identity theft exists and has significantly increased in recent years. Tax identity theft involves individuals who have obtained your name and Social Security number and file a tax return in your name. Sometimes, these individuals will falsify income and withholding amounts to receive a greater refund check sent to their address.

Mail, one of the oldest identity theft methods, still exists today. If your mail is stolen, a thief may have access to your financial information and thus may open new accounts or make purchases in your name. With such information, they could also change your address, i.e., to have new cards sent to their own address.

Social Security theft typically occurs as a result of data breaches or tax identity theft. One way to recognize this is if your accounts or mail begins listing the wrong last four digits of your Social Security number. Other red flags of potential identity theft or fraud might be the wrong name or address listed. Be sure to stay on top of your credit reports, as credit bureaus like Experian will list Social Security numbers reported in your name due to fraud.

Identity theft and fraud know no bounds. It is relentless and evolving. Core ID Services empathizes with the frustrations involved in protecting and recovering your identity. Our suite of identity theft and fraud services include fraud alerts, credit reports, notifying the FTC and government agencies, alerting bank and credit institutions, provide insurance, and other means of monitoring and recovering identities. We pride ourselves in [arming] our clients with knowledge and updates on the latest theft and fraud trends to ensure they know all the resources available. If you’re interested in taking your identity back into your own hands, contact Core ID Services for more information on our suite of identity theft services.