Identity theft continues to soar at alarming rates. From credit card fraud to unauthorized data breaches, identity-related crimes continue to spiral out of control. According to industry monitors, more than 91 million records were put at risk last year, with numbers expected to reach new records in 2017. What’s even more concerning is that anyone with access to your Social Security number can cause irreparable harm to your financial and health-care records.
Opening Credit Cards in Your Name
All credit card companies notify customers when they detect possible fraud. Many consumers also utilize additional security measures and platforms for their debit/credit cards. However, did you know that identity thieves can open new credit cards in your name? According to Chase Bank, this ongoing problem has resulted in millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, claims, damages and recovery procedures.
Sadly, most consumers only find out about non-authorized cards in their names when they check credit reports. In order to combat this sub-culture of identity theft, here are some vital options:
- Check your credit ratings, histories and numbers with the leading credit report agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
- Keep an eye on any discrepancies, unusual activities or possible fraudulent activities on your credit reports. This includes unauthorized changes to your name, address, contact information and other essential information.
- Contact your credit card companies to find out if any accounts have been opened in your name. You can do the same for healthcare providers, medical insurance, car insurance and even mortgages and property insurance.
Medical History Can Be Compromised
Medical identity theft is also on the rise around the world. To date, there have been more than 2.3 million victims worldwide, and the numbers will grow. By simply accessing your Social Security number, identity thieves can cause medical histories to change, along with illegally tapping into Social Security, Medicaid and even Medicare benefits for seniors.
Unlike credit card fraud, in which personal liability is often zero, medical fraud victims had to pay an average of $13,500 in 2016 to resolve these crimes. To combat this growing problem, try these simple options:
- Check every medical bill or related statement for accuracy.
- Contact your physician or hospital if any unusual, unrecognized or unauthorized services are shown.
- Ensure the Explanation of Benefits summaries sent out by your insurer match the care you received.
These are a few ways to tackle identity theft at its core. Sadly, this problem can also affect tax refunds, public records, private records and even your children’s education and future. In worst-case scenarios, contact law enforcement personnel for assistance. They have some of the best identity theft departments across the nation and are always ready to help you. You can also sign up for a top identity theft protection service like Lifelock. Here’s our Lifelock review to give you more information about the service.
If you are worried about hackers getting information from your phone, you can try an app like Password1.