By the AllClear ID Team
Kirsten here. When we think of an identity thief we often think of someone mischievously evil, maybe part of a big crime ring to scam lots of people out of lots of money. Although that’s the profile of some identity thieves, it’s not all of them. Granted, these people aren’t stealing identities to give money to charity, but not all of them are doing it to sell the information on the black market, or to rake in millions of dollars – there are many ways, small and large, that they can hurt you by stealing your identity. Here are some of the things identity thieves do with the identities they steal.
1. Employment Fraud – Sometimes identity thieves steal an identity in order to get a job. Perhaps it’s because they have bad credit, or they have a criminal record, either of which would make it harder for the person to get a job with their true identity. If you see a record on your credit report for a company you’ve never worked for, then employment fraud is a real possibility. Here’s information on how to check your employment history for free.
2. Utility Fraud – This one is easier to spot since utility services, such as electricity, phone, and cable, require a physical address. Cell phone services would also count, but that’s harder to catch since those services don’t require the address. Thieves who steal your identity for this purpose simply want to use your account to pay their bills. Check your credit report for accounts you don’t recognize to see if you’re a victim.
3. Government Document Fraud – Social Security numbers are needed for several crucial government documents, such as a birth certificate, a driver’s license, or a passport. Often illegal immigrants will do this so they can work and stay in this country. This is usually caught when those who steal your identity for this purpose use it to open additional accounts, so your credit report is a good first step. Commonly, children are victims of this type of theft so you can read more about it and what to do to prevent it on our website.
4. To Commit More Crimes – It’s not all that surprising that an identity thief may commit other types of crimes so it’s very possible that he or she could get caught for that other crime, and use their stolen identity when booked. Police don’t typically cross-check identity paperwork meaning there would be an arrest warrant for the person whose identity was stolen, creating a difficult situation for the victim. It would be difficult to prove that your identity was stolen, and simply claiming innocence doesn’t always work well with law enforcement. These cases can get complicated, read one of our customer’s stories here.
5. Medical Service Fraud – We’ve covered medical identity theft quite a bit here at AllClear ID, and it’s a very real problem. Whether the identity is stolen to receive health care, to receive Medicare benefits, or to pose as a doctor to get paid for services, the identity thief can easily get away with it if he or she keeps up with co-payments. Medical identity theft is only caught if it’s looked for, like in medical records, or if you receive confirmation/bills for services you never received. Read more about medical identity theft here.
This list certainly isn’t an exhaustive one of what identity thieves do with the identities they steal. Our customers have experienced thieves opening credit cards, draining bank accounts, committing tax fraud, and much more! When you know why an identity thief would steal your personal information, and how he or she could possibly use it, you can use these tools detect it in your records and prevent more damage.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.