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What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a crime, which occurs when a person uses another person’s personal information to commit fraud, hence the importance of protecting your social security number or credit card number, passwords or any information related to your personal name.

What happens when you have been a victim of identity theft?

– They make purchases with your credit or debit card.

– They may rent real estate in your name.

– They may open accounts in your name.

– They may apply for high-dollar loans in your name.

– Someone else may receive medical treatment that was intended for you.

It is common for the victim to find out that his or her identity has been stolen when it is too late, often receiving a call from a debt collector for a debt he or she does not know about or simply for a negative credit report.

Identity theft has grown at an accelerated rate, with fraud often being committed through new strategies being used by criminals to steal personal information. These frauds result in damage to the good name, credit history, loss of time trying to resolve the damage and even large sums of money.

One of the consequences of the pandemic was the increase in identity theft; the U.S. Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million identity theft complaints in 2020.

What are the most common means criminals use to steal your identity?

New trends frequently emerge thanks to the agility of criminals who have an in-depth knowledge of weaknesses, these are some of the most common:

Data leakage: Occurs when sensitive information (personal or financial) is leaked from a secure location to an untrusted environment. Data may be stolen from your personal computer or from a company that has your personal information.

– Malicious software or “malware”: Dangerous software designed to damage computers and computer systems.

– Phishing or spoofing: This is when they send fake emails, text messages or create an imitation website in an attempt to steal your personal information or identity for the sole purpose of stealing your credit card numbers, bank account numbers, debit card pins and passwords.

– Internet auction fraud: Involves misrepresentation of a product advertised on an Internet auction site or non-delivery of merchandise.

– Phone calls: They impersonate entities to steal your identity through deception and false information.

There are countless methods used by criminals to steal identity, including cybercriminals also used identity theft as a means to gain access to federal stimulus payments issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and eligible to U.S. residents. These cases were reported to the FTC as incidents of tax identity theft. The number of complaints in 2020 tripled compared to those in 2019, with the FTC receiving 89,390 reports in 2020 and 27,450 the previous year.