Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, in order to impersonate someone else.
The information can be used to obtain credit, merchandise, and services in the name of the victim, or to provide the thief with false credentials. In addition to running up debt, in rare cases, the impostor might provide false identification to police, creating a criminal record or leaving outstanding arrest warrants for the person whose identity has been stolen.
Long story short, identity theft is something that you NEVER want to happen to you. It can get you in a lot of trouble. How? The following list of 25 Scariest Cases of Identity Theft will give you an idea…or two.
Estate Identity Theft
Identity theft doesn’t stop after death. A thief may use a deceased person’s details to drain accounts, set up new loans, steal government benefits, and more. This type of identity theft typically impacts family members and friends of the deceased who were meant to receive an inheritance.
Employment Identity Theft
If a thief uses your information for employment purposes, there could be devastating effects on your employment history and your name. Since incorrect employment is reported to the Social Security Administration, you may face tax audits, lost tax refunds and errors on permanent government records. And if you apply for a new job, your employment history may be incorrect and misleading. These effects could take years to resolve.
Internet of Things Identity Theft
Currently the greatest online threat is identity theft. Within the IoT (Internet of Things; basically any device with an on/off switch that can connect to the internet) that threat will extend to identity theft of a device as well as a person. While we often hear about scary and unpredictable hackers trying to get to our data and money with all types of impressive hacks, we are often also our own greatest enemy.
Through careless safekeeping of our internet-connected devices we are playing into the hands of malicious thieves and opportunistic finders.
The financial gain for hackers looking to infiltrate the IoT lies in the data. In a rush to get items to market, companies often leave IoT devices unsecured and easy to access.
Hackers can gain access to personal information that can then be used to create fake identities.
Existing Account Takeover
Account takeover, aka account compromise, happens when a fraudster gets access to a genuine customer’s account. Any online account can be taken over, including eCommerce accounts, subscriptions, banks, credit cards, emails, etc.
How is that possible? Thieves can get a hold of account numbers in many ways, including online hacking, stealing mail or finding it in the trash, lifting wallets, and ATM and card reader skimming. Once the thieves obtain the account data, they may use the information right at a point of sale or access individual accounts online, over the phone, or through the postal service.
New Account Fraud
New account fraud is whereby a hacker uses another person’s personal information and good credit rating to open an account and borrow money using fake credentials.Often, the first step in identity theft starts by creating a new account online.
The hacker then borrows as much as they can. After they have reached their credit limit, they move on to open another account with different credentials. In the end, banks end up losing lots of money to defaulters. The hackers borrow the money knowing that the burden of repayment doesn’t fall on them.
New account fraud increased 27.8% worldwide in 2019, compared to full-year 2018 results, and more than 100% compared to 2014.