Identity theft happens every 14 seconds - Is someone using your identity?

There is a new identity theft case every 14 seconds in the United States -National Council on Identity Protection

In 2022, Identity theft cases are at an all-time high due to the creation of various new identity theft methods. With so many new strategies, experts predict that nearly half of the US population is at risk - but, it is our goal to make sure you are not one of them.

Reduce your risk of identity theft by arming yourself with the knowledge to identify any red flags associated with identity fraud and the most common methods of identity scams.


Here are some of the most common identity theft methods:


The Phishing Method

Scammers will send you emails, texts, or call you pretending to be from an established company or government agency in the hope of getting you to provide personal information such as your Social Security number, and then use that information to steal your identity.


The Data Broking Method

The newest method of identity theft involves simply buying your information from “Data Brokers” - Strangely enough, this is a completely legal business which is part of a multimillion-dollar industry that works to collect and then sell off your personal information.

This data is taken from tracking our online habits - from shopping to various social media activities. Everything you do online leaves behind a personal footprint that can provide these criminals with the information they need.

For more about Data Brokers and how to have safer online habits click here.


The Physical Theft Method

It turns out criminals actually don't need much to steal your identity. Just gaining access to your ID alone provides enough information that can be used for identity theft. So this method involves stealing your wallet or even physical mail from your mailbox to obtain anything with identifying information or bank account numbers.


The Shoulder Surfing Method

One of the simplest methods of identity theft consists of criminals out in public looking over your shoulder while you enter login details to your online accounts on your various devices or at the ATM while you're entering your pin number to withdraw cash.

5 Most Common Ways to Recognize Identity Theft


1. Review Your Credit Report

If your credit report suddenly doesn't seem accurate this is a sign of identity fraud. It is good practice to review your credit report and history regularly to recognize any inconsistencies that may indicate identity fraud.

If individuals do not habitually check their credit they could only find out after it is too late when attempting to take out a loan but the lender denies you a line of credit. This could be a sign of credit theft.

If you notice anything that you think might be a sign of identity fraud you can request a free credit report from the official federally authorized site, AnnualCreditReport.com.

2. Double Check Your Credit Card and Bank Statements

A big red flag of identity theft is noticing irregular or suspicious activity on your credit card or bank statements.

According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, The US accounts for one-third of the world’s credit card fraud cases, totaling at an average of $11 billion in losses each year since 2020.

Scan your statements for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals from your accounts. Make sure you pay attention to small purchases/withdrawals as well because this is a common method used to go unnoticed.

3. Inspect Your Physical Mailbox

Look at your physical mailbox for signs of identity theft. The most obvious red flag is any unfamiliar or suspicious mail like credit card statements or letters from companies you don’t recognize. This can often be a sign of bank account or loan fraud - meaning, someone could be applying for loans or new credit cards in your name.

AURA, a company specializing in online safety, reports - “A new trending fraud is with regard to unemployment scams — if you get a letter in the mail from unemployment with information about benefits you never claimed, you are most likely the victim of identity theft.”

Another red flag is any missing physical mail. Mail theft reports increased by 600% 2017–2022. These criminals will steal mail directly for your mailbox to gain access to any personal information that might be within them. Make sure you are monitoring your mailbox as frequently as possible, especially when expecting mail with personal information like a new credit card.

4. Make Sure You Have All Of Your Personally Identifying Documents

If any of your personally identifiable documents are stolen or lost this could put you at risk of identity theft. It is important to know where all of these documents are at all times.

According to AURA here are the 10 documents that are important to keep a constant track of:

  1. iPhone/Android.

  2. iPad/Tablet.

  3. Laptop/Computer.

  4. Wallet/Purse.

  5. Passport.

  6. Driver's License.

  7. Social Security Card.

  8. Debit Card.

  9. Credit Card.

  10. Insurance Card.

5. Suspicious Communications

Phone Calls, Voicemails, Emails and Text Messages

Scammers will send you emails, texts, or call you pretending to be from an established company or government agency in the hope of getting you to provide personal information such as your Social Security number, and then use that information to steal your identity.

If you don’t have an app or service working to block these kinds of communications make sure you are doing it manually to keep yourself protected from Identity fraud.

About Genie:

Genie is an AI personal assistant answering unknown callers on behalf of each Genie owner. Genie speaks to the callers, determines who’s calling and why, and decides if they should be blocked or allowed through. For more about Genie you can visit https://www.lifesgenie.com/.