Common Identity Scams And How To Prevent Them

Published: Jan 23, 2020
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Man looking at his computer and thinking

There are all kinds of identity fraud, but being aware of the most common ones - and knowing how to prevent them can go a long way to keeping your data safe.

Tax-related

Issues with Social Security numbers or other tax-related information are fairly common, especially during tax season.

Safety tip: Shred documents that contain your Social Security number, and never store it in your email, on your computer or on a website. Also, remember that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will never call you to request payment for tax-related issues. If you believe you are receiving a false IRS tax-related call, hang up and call back on your own to verify.

Credit card

Credit card fraud is still one of the most prevalent forms of identity theft out there today.

Safety tip: Avoid storing your credit card information online, shred any documents that contain your credit card information, and report lost or stolen cards right away. It also helps to check your billing statements monthly, or even weekly, to check for fraudulent charges.

Phone or utility

Hackers can use your personal information to gain access to a phone or utility service.

Safety tip: Besides shredding documents and checking in with your utility companies when something seems off, it also helps to run an overall credit report check every four months, using each of the three major credit tracking services on a rotating basis. This helps to ensure no accounts have been opened in your name without your knowledge.

Driver's license

Thieves with access to your driver's license could use it to have traffic violation tickets written up in your name, or to create new credit card accounts.

Safety tip: If you've lost your wallet or just misplaced your license, alert the police and your local DMV, who can flag your old license number and issue a new one. Then put a freeze on your credit reports to prevent criminals from using your license for financial reasons.

Medical identity

A thief with the right personal information, like your social security number, birth date, full name, or health insurance policy number could use that information to charge medical services or prescription drugs to your name.

Safety tip: Many of the same steps you would take to avoid other types of fraud would help ward against medical identity fraud, as well. Shred all documents that contain your personal information, never store your social security number online, immediately report lost insurance cards to your insurer, and keep detailed records of all your health information. You can also ask your health insurance company to provide you with an updated Explanation of Benefits every couple months to make sure everything looks accurate.