In our digital-dependent world, it’s fair to say our risk for identity theft has increased at exponential rates. While social media is fun and a great way to network, it’s also a great place to expose an immense amount of personal information without even realizing the consequences. Privacy has certainly become a thing of the past with our selfies plastered all over our platforms, geographical locations broadcasted, personal information shared (hello Facebook personality quizzes!), online banking accounts, camera-laden devices, and of course being able to save your credit card information after any online purchase.
These things have become so normalized that none of us think twice about halting our morning scroll to assess the potential risk this puts us in. It’s been reported that in 2019 there were over half a million cases, making it one of the worst years for identity theft of all time, with the trajectory going up. And in 2021, identity fraud resulted in a total of $56 billion in losses.
Mind-blowing, isn’t it? With numbers like that, you’d think people would be walking around hyper-vigilant, but the truth is unless it’s happened to you or someone you know, it hardly receives a passing glance.
What Is Identity Theft Anyways?
Identity theft happens when someone obtains your personal information (birth date, address, SSN, place of employment, banking numbers, etc.) and uses it without your consent. In most cases, the motive is financial in nature. Most identity thieves will attempt to hack into your accounts to make significant purchases, but it can go much deeper than that. Some will use your information to apply for credit, file taxes, receive medical services, or shield themselves from criminal activity (while committing criminal activity, imagine that!). The worst part? This realization isn’t as instant as Instagram…it could be weeks, months, and even years before you’re aware someone has in fact stolen your identity.
Red Flag Alerts That You May Be a Victim
While the signs may be subtle, they can cause serious damage. Almost like that toxic ex (c’mon we all have one) who would constantly woo you with a beautiful red rose only to find out they amounted to nothing more than a dozen red flags! Minor turned major.
If you suspect or are starting to suspect, that you may be the center of identity theft here are the red flags you absolutely shouldn’t ignore –denied checks, calls from collectors you know nothing about, unfamiliar charges to your credit cards, authorization of accounts you didn’t open on your credit report, a social security statement that shows more earnings than you made, and the list goes on.
If these mysterious appearances keep occurring, be sure to file a police report quickly and put things in motion. The more time, the more damage. Since life gets busy, make it a habit to check in on your reports and personally scan for these things. I know it’s hard to find the time, but imagine trying to find the time to take care of things if your identity does get stolen? It’s so worth making this a part of your routine and being aware of what’s coming in and going out.
What Happens Next?
It’s obvious that identity theft is a serious matter that should be taken more seriously, which is why I’m passionate about growing awareness. I mean, the clean-up can be a nightmare. Once the activity has been detected (which again could be a few years) you are guilty and have to prove your innocence with any accounts. Notify companies of your stolen identity, contact the police, place a fraud alert on your reports or you may want to freeze your credit, sign up for ID protection, and take an abundance of other steps for precaution. All in the hopes to retrieve what’s been lost, without guarantee.
That’s why I encourage you to become the boss of your own identity! It’s much easier to take proactive steps now to ensure your safety than to be playing catch up in the future. Plus, I see how hard you’re working to rebuild healthy credit and achieve financial freedom…it would break my heart to see this unfortunate circumstance happen to you.
Becoming the CEO of Your ID Protection
There are so many ID protection monitoring services out there that are committed to keeping your identity secured…without breaking the bank. That is why I teamed up with a company that I trust my identity with and you can check it out here.
Enrolling in one of these programs can help alleviate the time-consuming personal measures and give you peace of mind knowing you have legal backup. In my opinion, you can never be too protected!
I hope this article helped to guide you in becoming more aware of what you’re sharing publicly to protect yourself and your family. I believe any decision made in that pursuit will always be of high priority and high value.
To Your Healthy Safe Credit ~