Identity theft is not going away any time soon, in fact, it will probably continue to worsen before it improves. However, you don’t have to be the next victim of identity theft or fraud. There are 11 types fraud and identity theft threats you should be aware of. Being able to identify common threats will help you protect yourself in the future.

Medical Fraud
This type of fraud occurs when someone submits false claims to your insurance company. Fraudsters will use your medical ID number or health insurance records to get medical help, which will compromise your medical records, or worse, your health insurance benefits.

How to protect yourself
 
Protect your health insurance records and account numbers like you would a financial record. Monitor your statements, bills, and explanations of benefits from your insurance provider. If anything looks suspicious, call your insurance company immediately.

Social Security
This is one of the most well-known forms of identity theft. When someone is informed their identity has been compromised, they are always concerned their social security number was stolen. Losing the nine-digit number uniquely assigned to you can quickly lead to tax and employment fraud.

How to protect yourself
Don’t carry your social security card with you. This way, if you misplace, lose, or have your wallet stolen, your social security number is safe. Additionally, if you receive social security monies, monitor your annual benefits statements for irregularities. Finally, never give out your social security number if you do not need to. Always ask if another form of identification would suffice.

Tax Fraud
When someone commits tax fraud, he or she is filing taxes under another individual’s social security number in order to obtain his or her refund.

How to protect yourself
File your taxes as early as possible. Filing early can minimize the opportunity a criminal has to file in your name. Protect your electronic filing information and data as you would protect any other sensitive information.

Dumpster Diving
It can be easy to toss out junk mail or old documents without thinking, but fraudsters will go through your trash looking for bills, receipts, and other documents containing personal information in order to steal your identity.

How to protect yourself
Investing in a shredder is the best way to insure your identity’s safety in the trash. If you don’t have a shredder, many organizations like credit unions host community shred days. Look for one coming up in your area and safely dispose of those old documents.

Mail Theft
Despite the common knowledge that stealing or opening mail is a federal crime, stealing mail out of someone’s mailbox happens all too often and is a common type of identity theft.

How to protect yourself
Check your mailbox daily. Don’t leave items inside of it for an extended period of time. If you are going on vacation, ask a trusted neighbor or family member to gather your mail for you. You can also ask the post office to place a hold on your mail while you are out of town and pick up the mail when you return.

Shoulder Surfing
Picture this: You’re sitting at the airport, waiting for your flight to be announced. You have some time so you pull out your laptop and check some email, scroll through Facebook, and you think, “Oh! I should check my bank account.” A passerby sees you pulling up your online banking and stops, carefully staying out of sight but watching your every move, staring at the screen, taking note of all of your banking information. That is shoulder surfing.

How to protect yourself
Simply be aware of your surroundings. Invest in a privacy screen protector. Don’t open your bank account or be on the phone with your credit card company in public. Wait until you are in a private location to do those things. Chances are, they’re better off happening in private anyway.

Hacking
Easily one of the most identifiable and common types of fraud, hacking, is the installation of malware, key-logging software and other malicious technology that grabs your information without you ever noticing.

How to protect yourself
Ensure your computer’s system updates and anti-virus software are up-to-date. Avoid unfamiliar websites and never click on links in an email from an unknown sender.

Ransomware
A growing trend, ransomware is a type of malware used to encrypt your computer data. Hackers then demand a ransom in order to receive your data.

How to protect yourself
Never click on links in an email or text if you are not absolutely sure it is legitimate. Regularly back up your data on external devices regularly and ensure security software is updated on all devices.

Social Engineering
With this type of fraud, a thief pretends to be someone else, however, the thieves usually impersonate a company you trust and request that you provide additional information. Other terms for this type of fraud include phishing, vishing, and smishing.

How to protect yourself
If you suspect a scam or situation like this, hang up the phone or delete the email or text immediately. Do not respond. If it sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. If you think the contact was legitimate, call the company back at a trusted phone number, not the one in which you received the call.

Data Breaches
An incident in which sensitive, protected, or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen, or used by an individual unauthorized to do so. These types of identity theft and fraud are becoming increasingly more common and the consumer is not at fault in anyway.

How to protect yourself
Be aware of who has access to your personal information. Do business with reputable businesses. Change your passwords regularly and use different ones for different sites and accounts. Monitor your statements and activity frequently.

These are just a few of the most common threats to your identity with simple steps to protect yourself. If you have other tips for readers on protecting yourself from fraud and identity threats, leave them in the comments or contact us.