The Many Types of Identity Theft
There are several types of identity theft. Knowing what to do if you are a victim of identity theft starts by knowing what type of identity theft you are dealing with.
Financial Identity Theft
When we hear the words "identity theft" we usually think of credit reports and bank accounts. This is called financial identity theft. We hear about data breaches like TJ Maxx and Heartland Payment Systems (130 million credit cards) regularly.
Our faith in our financial institutions is shaken. Some of us are thinking about stuffing our money in the mattress again. If an identity thief gets access to your bank account, you will want to read up on the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA)
Insurance Identity Theft
Your Guide has identified insurance identity theft as a "new" type of identity theft. Although the problem has always existed, it presents specific problems for the victim that must be addressed independently from other types of identity theft. Of course, all types of identity theft have the potential (or even likelihood) of bleeding over into other types. Generally speaking, insurance identity theft tends to be a concern when you are a victim of medical identity theft, and could also show up as financial identity theft.
Medical Identity Theft
The World Health Organization said this is “the information crime that can kill you.” (Read the full publication here (PDF).) It’s not just the most dangerous form of identity theft, it’s also one of the hardest to fix.
There are very specific areas you will want to look into when you are a victim of medical identity theft, and they are in general vastly different from dealing with any other type of identity theft.
(As a side-note, there is a lot of misinformation concerning the the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) when it comes to medical identity theft.
Keep in mind that, despite the name of the organization, MIB Group has almost nothing to do with medical identity theft – although if you are a victim of insurance identity theft you may want to consider checking your free MIB report.)
Criminal Identity Theft
Criminal Identity Theft is just as difficult as medical identity theft in terms of resolving the problem. Like medical identity theft, criminal identity theft has a way of coming back to haunt you, even after you think you have the problem taken resolved. The easiest way to find out if this has happened to you is to get caught speeding. The officer who stops you will run your license and registration. If there are warrants out for your arrest, s/he will give you a pretty set of matching silver bracelets, and free public transportation.
For an example, check out this story from Jacksonville, FL.
When dealing with criminal identity theft, expect a lot of skepticism. Police are told “It wasn’t me” almost every day. It's also worthwhile to know that many states now have specific laws in place to address identity theft.
Driver’s License Identity Theft
This may be the easiest form of ID theft to commit. Your purse/wallet gets stolen, and your driver’s license gets sold to someone who looks like you.
Then it’s easy for them to get other forms of ID in your name. This type of ID theft spreads to others, especially criminal identity theft.
Social Security Identity Theft
There are millions of people working in America who don’t want to pay taxes. Your SSN may be the most valuable piece of personal information that person can steal. Thieves working with someone else's Social Security number can avoid paying many taxes by manipulating withholding taxes or working as an independent contractor and not paying any withholding at all. The IRS may eventually hand the bill for those unpaid withholding taxes to you, since the compensation was paid to someone with your SS number.
If you suspect someone has stolen your Social Security number, report the crime immediately to the IRS and file a report with your local police department.
Contact the Social Security Administration for a replacement card.
Synthetic Identity Theft
This is the “latest thing” in the ID theft world. The thief will take parts of information from many victims and combine it. The new identity isn’t any specific person, but all the victims can be affected when it’s used. It will show up in the areas above, so look to those sections for additional information.
Synthetic identity theft has also been used to describe any act in which the criminal attempts to convince someone they are another person, real or fictional. This careful wording is no doubt reactionary to the US Supreme Court ruling that an illegal immigrant has not committed a crime unless he/she knew they SSN they were using belonged to an actual citizen.
Child Identity Theft
Our kids are a big target for identity theft. Child Identity Theft has become a serious concern in recent times, and there are a lot of articles giving widely varying advice concerning the matter. From a practical standpoint, an 8-year-old won’t be looking at his or her credit for at least eight more years, when they decide to get a car and insurance. Sadly, in these cases it is almost always a friend or family member who commits identity theft. This means the parents will usually not want to press charges, and the identity thief counts on that.