The internet makes a lot of things in life easier. You can shop, pay your bills, and even book your next getaway. Unfortunately, the internet is also home to some less-than-savory characters who are looking to take sensitive information for personal gain.
Private information like credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers (SSN) can fall into the wrong hands — leading to identity thieves opening new accounts, taking out loans, and even filing tax returns in their victims’ names.
Fortunately, victims of identity theft and concerned individuals can access several helpful resources designed to respond to or prevent identity theft through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), such as IdentityTheft.gov. McAfee Identity Protection can also keep personal information secure with 24/7 monitoring and restoration support.
This article will explain some common types of identity theft and the resources you can turn to in case identity theft becomes an issue for you.
What are the most common types of identity theft?
The internet is the place to be if you’re looking to shop, connect with others, and get access to all the information you could ever need. Obviously, we spend a lot of time online, and cybercriminals know that.
- Financial identity theft: Criminals can use your personal information for their financial gain. They might use personal bank funds or credit cards to make purchases or open a new line of credit in your name and leave you with the bill.
- Criminal identity theft: Some criminals will go to great lengths to avoid arrest. Fraudsters can give a different name and show a stolen ID to get a clean getaway. This can leave you with a false criminal report in your name.
- Medical identity theft: Medical identity thieves pose as someone else and can access medical services, like surgeries, or get prescription drugs and other medical devices and supplies. This can affect your health insurance coverage and make access to health care difficult.
- Child identity theft: This type of offender commits financial fraud with a minor’s personal information, such as their SSN. With this information, an identity thief can apply for government benefits, get a driver’s license, and even buy a house.
- Synthetic identity theft: Identified as the fastest-growing financial crime, criminals create an identity persona from real information and create a completely new and fake credit file.
If you have any reason to believe your identity has been stolen, it’s important to report identity theft or suspicious activity to local police, financial institutions, and credit card companies as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to get a copy of your credit reports from each of the major credit bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com and routinely check all of your bank statements.
5 ways to get identity theft victim assistance
Identity theft can be scary, but several resources exist to help victims. Some key ID theft resources include the IRS, IdentityTheft.gov, IDtheftcenter.org, Fraud.org, and McAfee Total Protection.
IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can help with tax-related identity theft. Tax-related identity theft victims may self-report or receive a notice or letter from the IRS about a suspiciously filed tax return. Signs of tax-related ID theft include receiving a tax transcript you didn’t ask for, getting a report of unknown wages or other income, or not being able to e-file because of a matching SSN.
Whether you report identity theft or suspicious activity to the IRS or they tell you, you’ll want to follow instructions to resolve any fraudulent tax issues. You may need to verify your identity with Letter 4883C or complete an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039).
Once everything has been settled, the IRS will tag your account with an identity theft indicator for added protection in the future. In some circumstances, you may even receive an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN) to use when filing an electronic or paper tax return.
IdentityTheft.gov is a federal resource that can help victims recover from identity theft. The site provides an overview of victim rights, sample letters you can use to dispute any fraudulent credit or debit card charges, and a checklist to track your progress.
IdentityTheft.gov can help with any identity theft, including that related to student loans and fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. You’ll need to explain your situation in great detail to receive a personalized recovery plan.
The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) helps prevent, recover, and protect individuals and businesses from identity theft. This nonprofit organization provides information and assistance at no cost and can help with account takeovers, data breaches, email scams, and other fraudulent account activities. You can also sign up for ID Theft News and stay informed with newsletters and alerts.
Identity theft victims can use the online chat or call to speak with an adviser who can help figure out the next steps to take. They may suggest filing a police report, placing a credit freeze, and/or obtaining free credit report copies from the major credit bureaus, like Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
A project of the National Consumers League, Fraud.org collects and shares decades worth of consumer complaints related to fraud. With advocacy, education, and consumer counseling, Fraud.org helps consumers protect themselves from telemarketing and internet fraud.
Fraud.org raises awareness about many types of common and unexpected scams, including phony sweepstakes prizes, government grants and scholarships, online phishing for financial account numbers and other personal information, malware downloads, and the possibility of a financially disastrous ending after falling in love online.
You can sign up for fraud alerts or file a complaint on the secure website and Fraud.org will share your story with their network of law enforcement agencies.
McAfee Total Protection
Identity protection with McAfee Total Protection Ultimate provides around-the-clock email address and bank account monitoring, which includes $1 million of ID theft coverage on qualifying losses. As a subscriber, you’ll also gain access to hands-on restoration support to help with reclaiming your identity.
McAfee Total Protection can go wherever you go. Stay in the know on your tablet, laptop, or smartphone and receive critical alerts. The software also provides a Protection Score that can help you secure any weak areas that may leave you open to ID theft.
See how McAfee Identity Protection keeps you safe
Use the internet your way and protect your sensitive information with 24/7 account monitoring and alerts. McAfee Total Protection adds an additional layer of security by keeping tabs on up to 60 unique types of personal information. We’ll also guide you through the best choices for prevention and alert you as soon as action is needed.
Get protection from data breaches and malicious software like viruses and malware and benefit from fraud alerts 10 months sooner than our competitors. Get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that McAfee is looking out for you and keeping your identity safe.