Cyberattacks are increasingly common. Data security specialists struggle to keep up with ever-more sophisticated fraudsters. Facebook, Marriott, Equifax, Uber and more have all recently fallen victim to massive data breaches, potentially exposing users’ sensitive information.
You work hard for your money. With so many instances of potential vulnerability, how can you protect yourself in the digital age?
As defined by the U.S. government, identity theft is any instance where “someone steals your personal information to commit fraud.”
Identity thieves may use the information they gather to apply for credit under your name, file taxes, get medical services or open other accounts posing as you. This has the potential to ruin your credit and pile on massive amounts of debt.
There are many ways in which you could find out that your personal information is compromised. Sometimes your bank or credit card company might call you to say they have detected suspicious activity on your accounts. But other times it may go unnoticed longer.
If you receive unexpected calls from debt collectors, get bills for purchase you didn’t make, get denied for a loan or see your credit score unexpectedly drop, these are all signs you might be an identity theft victim.
While it’s impossible to avoid all situations in which you might fall prey to an identity thief, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself:
Identity theft is a serious crime, and the repercussions are far reaching. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to fraud, so look out for your loved ones. If you fall victim to identity theft, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel. An attorney has the potential to return any stolen money and limit the damage to your credit.