By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Identity (ID) theft, also known as identity fraud, happens when someone or a group of individuals steals your personal information such as name, bank account or credit card numbers, and social security numbers to commit fraud and gather on your behalf the financial or sometimes reputational benefits that come with your identity.

What are the types of identity theft?

  1. Financial identity theft results from unauthorized credit card charges, loss of social security benefits or bad credit.
  2. Criminal/impersonation identity theft causes criminal records and traffic violations or warrants in your name.
  3. Medical identity theft may cause an individual to be denied health coverage.
  4. Child identity theft is when a child’s identity is stolen to obtain a driver’s license or open credit accounts.
  5. Senior identity theft targets seniors, who are more vulnerable to ID theft because of their frequent need to provide medical insurance information to healthcare staff or medical professionals.
  6. Social ID theft is when a thief uses your photos and other personal information to create a fraudulent account on a social media platform.

Measures that individuals can take to shield themselves

  1. Do not put your social security number (SSN) in your wallet or write it on easy-to-access documents. You probably have a confusing variety of passwords that you can no longer memorize (social media, business-related, bank and shopping accounts). Store all personal information in a safe place at home.
  2. Cover the keypad when using the ATM to avoid card skimmers from getting hold of your information.
  3. Shield your computer and mobile phone by using firewall or spyware protection software and creating complex passwords and changing them regularly.
  4. Do not just disclose any sensitive information to anyone. Banks, for example, would never ask for your passwords or personal identifying information via e-mails. Beware of e-mail scams that act just like this.
  5. Get identity theft insurance from a trusted company. New Horizon Insurance can help you choose from available individual and family ID theft plans that include consultation, identity restoration, privacy and security monitoring.

As thieves become more innovated to steal information in this digital age, it is best to take preventive actions and safeguard your identity, including those of your family members. After all, identity is what defines and makes each person unique.