7 Different Forms of ID Theft and How They Work

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Maxym Chekalov
Written by
Maxym Chekalov

Updated · Nov 16, 2023

Maxym Chekalov
SEO Specialist | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Maxym Chekalov

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Florence Desiata
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Florence Desiata

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In today's digital world, it is easy to put information online. This means anyone on the Internet can use your personal data for crimes and cyberattacks—like identity theft

In simple terms, identity theft is the act of stealing your personal information. The primary purpose of it is to rob your money, claim insurance, and do other things without your consent.

Consumer Sentinel Network received over 1 million identity theft reports in 2021 alone, covering 25.01% of all the complaints they received.

These statistics made ID theft rank second after fraud. The records show how this crime is prevalent now and how it poses a threat to anyone.

This article explores the different types of identity theft and the dangers that come with each one.

Read on to know more.

Different Forms of ID Theft and How They Work

Identity theft happens when someone steals your data and uses them to impersonate or act like you. This information includes bank details, Social Security Numbers, social media accounts, and more. 

By stealing information, criminals can make fake profiles and use your identity for personal gain. Every day, cybercriminals come up with new schemes to get more victims. 

Equipping yourself with a bit of knowledge can help you avoid these. Listed below are the different types of ID theft:

7 types of identity theft

1. Financial Identity Theft

Financial identity theft  (also known as financial identity fraud) is a common form that cybercriminals use. It happens when someone uses your personal information for their economic benefit. 

Cybercriminals can do this by:

  • Using your credit card details
  • Steal money from your bank
  • Opening new accounts under your name

🚨 Financial ID Theft Attack

David Read's financial identity theft case is one of the most shocking cases recorded. Higley and Read pretended to be Demi Moore's assistant in 2018.

They made a story that the actress requested a new American Express card because she lost it. They did this by using Moore's personal information through the Internet.

Within five weeks, Read successfully spent more than $169,000. After this, surveillance cameras caught them with the card in the Nordstrom store.

The obvious sign of identity theft is seeing unfamiliar expenses from your accounts. If you spot purchases you didn't make, you might be experiencing a robbery. 

You can avoid it immediately if you always check your bank accounts. This step lets you see if all the transactions are still within your consent. 

✅ Pro Tip

Use One-Time Passwords or OTPs when dealing with sensitive data online. Most bank transactions online require OTP. 

Avoid sharing your OTPs with anyone, and contact your bank or app if someone triggers your OTP other than yourself.

2. Social Security Identity Theft

The type of thieves who do this is when they get your Social Security Number. An individual’s SSN is considered a Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that can be used as a key to uncover more of your personal data. 

They can use your number to apply for loans and credit cards under your name. Once they open an account, they will spend and leave you with outstanding balances. 

Aside from this, they can also claim medical insurance and take loans pretending to be you. 

🚨SSN ID Theft Attack

In 2017, Turhan Armstrong scammed $3.3 million by executing SSN identity theft. He used Social Security Numbers from children and people who left the US. 

Armstrong made loans, laundered money, and did other tremendous expenses. A federal jury convicted him of 51 counts of fraud-related charges.  

Constantly monitor your SSN-related transactions to avoid this kind of theft. 

3. Medical Identity Theft

Although you don't hear of this often, this type of identity theft is real. It can happen when an individual poses as someone else for healthcare benefits. 

These criminals can use your name to get:

  • Prescriptions for drugs they want
  • Acquire medical supplies and devices like hospital beds, wheelchairs, etc.
  • Get medical services such as surgeries, checkups, and others.

🚨Medical ID Theft Attack

Katrina Candrick committed medical identity theft, leading to 10 years of imprisonment. Reports said that she used more than 1,200 individual data for her gain.

While still an employee at MedAssets in Texas, Candrick dealt with sensitive data. She preyed on it and made purchases.

If you experience this theft, you'll get notified of medical bills you didn't remember getting. Thus, always make sure to check your medical records from time to time. 

4. Criminal Identity Theft

People who commit this type of theft have criminal records. They use someone else's information instead of theirs. 

A fake ID is their pass to perform different criminal activities. They can show these identities to the police and avoid arrest. It can be challenging to detect this kind of fraud unless:

  • You receive a warrant for unresolved problems you didn't commit
  • A court summons under your name says that your ID has criminal offenses
  • You get notified about a background check because you violated a law

There are 42 million ID theft victims in the US in 2021 alone. They recorded one victim every 2 seconds. These numbers showed how ID theft is rampant nowadays. 

Falling victim to criminal identity theft can be normal, especially in the internet era. The records mean that all people can be at risk. 

🔓 Security Note

To avoid criminal identity theft, always safeguard your ID. Once you lose your ID, report it immediately to the authorities. 

You can also limit your information online to keep criminals from accessing them. 

5. Children Identity Theft

Children are also vulnerable to identity theft. Criminals choose this theft because kids' financial records are cleaner than adults'.

Identity thieves can use children's data for fraud or to open new accounts under their names. They can also pretend to be them to perform any activities.  

🚨 Children ID Theft Attack

Wendy Brown stole and used her daughter's identity to enroll in high school. According to the reports, Brown's primary goal is to join the particular school's cheerleading squad.

Brown got caught when the school called her daughter's "old school." They found out that Brown's daughter never even left her previous school.

Children identity theft is common among family members. Relatives with access to a child's data can steal and use this for their gain. 

It is essential to check the children's records, including credit card reports. You can also ask authorities to freeze their credit report to lessen the risk of fraud.

6. Synthetic Identity Theft

This type of theft happens when a criminal combines fake and actual information. They can use accurate data from stolen identities. From this, they will perform their fraud.

These criminals can open accounts and transact using fake and actual information. They can also steal money using credit cards. 

🚨 Synthetic ID Theft Attack

In Los Angles, Corey Cato once committed synthetic identity theft. He stole almost $2 million from different financial institutions.

The court convicted him of more than seven years in prison. He also needs to pay over $1 million in restitution. 

Crimes stemming from SID are more common now. Once you find suspicious transactions, report them immediately. Checking your financial records and other personal data is also a good practice to avoid this. 

7. Tax Identity Theft

It occurs when someone uses personal information to file a tax return. These criminals often use stolen Social Security numbers from their victims. 

Once they use your information, they can file a bogus tax return and collect a refund. They can do all this under your name.  

🚨 Tax ID Theft Attack

The infamous Meza Tax Identity Theft Case is about a man named Wilmer Alexander Garcia Meza, who stole data from his victims and used them to file tax returns. 

Garcia claimed thousand dollars just from the fraudulent refunds he performed. He caused over $200,000 in tax loss. His crimes were successful for four years (2013 to 2017) until authorities caught him.

If authorities notify you about a tax return, but you have yet to do so, contact them immediately. You can also avoid this theft if you keep these numbers private.

Effects of Identity Theft 

Identity theft is a real danger and can cause long-lasting damage. It is worse than people think because it can affect you in many ways.

Here are the four significant effects of identity theft:

1. Financial 

One of the common goals of identity thieves is to steal money from people. Victims of this theft may take longer to recover or not recover at all. 

According to Javelin, there will be about $43 billion in identity theft losses in 2022. These numbers are from 40 million victims in the United States alone. 

Effect of ID theft financially

People who experience identity theft can have a tremendous amount of debt. Some of these victims must pay legal fees to cover all the damages.

2. Emotional 

Identity theft can cause anger, but after this is emotional stress. Victims tend to overthink what happened to them.

Equifax reported that there are vast numbers of victims who experience this. According to their records, 69% of ID theft victims can feel fear, 50% feel powerless, and 29% feel shame. 

Emotional effects of ID theft

This theft can lead to different mental health problems. Some people can not handle this happening easily. If this happens, they usually shut down and feel so stressed. 

3. Physical 

After the emotional stress, your physical body will react. If your brain overthinks a lot, it can also manifest in the physical aspects. 

The Identity Theft Resource Center said that 41% of victims experience trouble sleeping. In contrast, 29% develop symptoms like sweating, palpitating, etc. 

Physical effects of identity theft

Clearing your records can also take a lot of effort. Stress and physical tiredness can result in different health symptoms. Your body can reflect all these happenings. 

4. Social 

Identity theft can also damage your name and reputation. It can affect your relationship with your relatives, friends, and colleagues. 

Statistics show that 70% of ID theft victims developed trust issues. Meanwhile, 50% said they lost interest in hobbies and activities. 

Effects of identity theft socially

People who experience identity theft can experience tangible loss and intangible aspects. Identity theft can cause real long-term damage to its victims.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity theft is rampant today. Everyone can be a victim of this. Preventing it from happening can save you from more devastating effects. 

Here are some ways to protect yourself from this:

Use alerts to notify you

Most financial institutions send notifications for every transaction. Sign up for this feature to monitor your accounts. 

Safeguard your Social Security Number

Protect your SSN as much as possible, as this info can reveal so much about your identity. Avoid sharing it with anyone.

Use strong passwords

Avoid using common and weak passwords, as they are easy to guess. Set up unique passwords for your accounts.

Check all your records and statements

Always check your records and statements to spot if there are suspicious transactions. Make sure that you recognize all the activities recorded on them.  

Set up MFA

Adding multi-factor authentication ensures that every transaction or login alerts are valid, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Besides the tips above, the best thing to do to protect yourself is to report an attack as soon as it happens. 

Reporting ID theft right away can reduce further damage to you. To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to the FTC's Identity Theft Portal to get form letters and file the report.

Step 2: Complete the theft affidavit. Print it to get your copy.

Step 3: Access FTC's recovery plan containing your provided information. 

Step 4: Call the FTC using the number 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the types of identity theft helps safeguard your personal and financial well-being. Criminals now discovered more sophisticated techniques to perform these.

Being updated on the current identity theft techniques can improve your identity security. These measures involve securing your account, reporting ID theft, etc. 

Proactively protecting your identity can lessen the risk of identity theft. You can also safeguard yourself from the consequences it can bring to you.


What is the red flag for ID theft?

The number one red flag for ID theft has suspicious documents. It is a red flag if these documents are inconsistent with the person representing them.

How do you check if your SSN is being used?

If you suspect unauthorized use of your SSN, contact Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can call them at 1-800-908-4490.

How long does ID theft last?

On average, ID theft cases can last 100-200 hours and over six months. 


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