The first time many of us heard of identify theft was through TV shows (e.g. such as “Friends”, where the identity of a central character, Monica, is stolen) but now it is in the headlines practically every day. Previously, identity thieves stole identity cards, credit cards or other information to steal the identity of a person, but now there is an abundance of other information that can be targeted. Email addresses, names, phone numbers and passwords, for example, can be used to hack into your account to steal more information and your identity.
Identity theft targeting kids
Even worse, children have become a favored target for identity theft schemes. According to a report, identity thieves hacked the identities of more than 1 million American children in 2017. They did so to steal over $2.6 billion, which left the victim’s families with over $540 million in out-of-pocket costs.
Another report, citing a 2018 online survey by The Harris Poll, noted that over 60 million Americans were affected by identity theft and around 15 million consumers faced identity theft in 2017. Further, the Identity Theft Resource Center recorded over 1,579 data breaches in 2017, in which more than 178 million records were exposed. The details stolen included birth dates, address, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and the like.
Forms of identity theft
The Federal Trade Commission notes that there are six main categories of identity theft: tax-related fraud, phone fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, government documents fraud,and loan fraud.
As an example, in tax-related fraud, an offender steals the personal information of a person to file a false income tax return or to gain employment. In the case of the children, offenders steal social security numbers of children to gain extra refunds on their taxes, obtain a credit card, or get a loan.