Most day-to-day transactions and purchases involve the collection of personal information. This practice could be typical to expedite payments but might put individuals at risk if their details fall into the wrong hands. If consumers willingly provide their information to multiple entities, they can become victims of identity theft.
This type of theft happens when another person or organization uses an individual’s personal information to commit fraud. Most of the time, unsuspecting victims discover the following fraudulent transactions made under their name:
- Filed tax returns
- Unknown purchases
- Credit card or loan applications
- Employment opportunities
- Bank accounts
- Other services, such as housing or health care
These activities could result in significant debt and detrimental credit report entries, impacting victims and their financial stability. Additionally, others could impersonate individuals to conduct criminal activities, potentially implicating victims in severe offenses they know nothing about. These types of identity theft can cause grave repercussions unbeknownst to victims until it is too late.
Minimizing identity theft risks
It might be impossible to remove the risks of identity theft. However, authorities advise citizens to practice the following measures to control risk factors:
- Organize sensitive information and store it in a secure place
- Only provide personal details to legitimate organizations and companies to expedite necessary transactions
- Beware of identity theft schemes and avoid providing confidential information over the phone
- Keep security features updated on personal devices, such as phones and laptops
- Change passwords in vital accounts regularly
- Always review documents containing financial details to check for inconsistencies or discrepancies
- Dispose of documents with sensitive information properly
It can also be helpful to file taxes early or on time to avoid identity tax fraud attempts.
Addressing identity theft
Channels exist for victims to report suspected identity theft incidents. These offenses could come with hefty penalties, depending on severity. However, resolving these cases could be challenging.