What is the Difference Between Identity Theft and Other Types of Fraud Crimes?

Learn about different types of identity theft & fraud crimes such as debit & credit card frauds & online shopping frauds & how they affect our financial life.

What is the Difference Between Identity Theft and Other Types of Fraud Crimes?

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Get all the information about your car. See the estimated value, history, recalls and more for free. With technology evolving so rapidly, fraudsters now have more opportunities than ever to access their private data for their own benefit. Protecting sensitive information can help prevent you from becoming a victim.

In addition to being proactive, knowing how to detect fraudulent activity that has already occurred can help you avoid further damage and potentially recover your losses. There are many different types of identity theft and fraud, including some lesser-known plans that could wreak havoc on your financial life if left undetected. Here's what to keep in mind and, more importantly, what to do if it happens to you. Since criminals need access to your user credentials to access your accounts and impersonate you online, it's vital to keep this information secure.

This involves creating strong passwords that are unique to each of your accounts. Opting for two-factor authentication and using a VPN when accessing a public Wi-Fi network can add an extra level of security. If you think you've been the victim of an account takeover, change your passwords (especially if you use the same one for multiple accounts) and contact customer service to see what resources you have available to you. Many services allow you to see a list of the devices from which you have logged into your account and close any login instances that may seem suspicious.

If, for example, your bank account shows a login session from an iPhone in Florida and you're an Android user living in Los Angeles, your account may have been hacked.

Debit and credit card fraud

occurs when someone uses your card without your permission. Even if a criminal doesn't have their physical card in hand, they can make unauthorized transactions using your credit card number, PIN, and security code. Someone could even use your card information to try to access your other accounts.

Either way, fraudulent activity could damage your credit in a number of ways, such as by causing your credit card balances to increase. The good news is that many card issuers have systems in place to help prevent and identify credit card fraud before it causes long-term damage. If you suspect this type of identity theft, contact your card provider as soon as possible to avoid further unauthorized charges. Most won't hold you responsible for charges you didn't authorize.

If you lose your wallet, it's possible that your debit and credit cards are what you're most worried about. It's easy to overlook your driver's license, but this small card can be a golden ticket for thieves, as it contains your address, driver's license number, and other sensitive information.

Driver's license identity theft

takes many forms, whether it's having your license number stolen in a data breach or having someone physically steal your wallet. Once your driver's license number is in someone else's hands, an offender could falsely use it during a traffic stop to avoid a citation, meaning it could end up on your driving record.

It's a form of criminal identity theft that could even result in an erroneous arrest warrant against you. If you lose your license, report it to the police and DMV.

Online shopping fraud

can occur in a variety of ways. Some criminals master the art of hacking website accounts and then using your saved card information to make unapproved purchases.

This can happen in many ways, but a common situation occurs when shoppers use their accounts while connected through an unknown Wi-Fi network, such as a coffee shop. Hackers can create seemingly legitimate networks with the intention of stealing information from anyone who connects. That's why it's always smart to shop, bank and manage any other sensitive information on a private Wi-Fi network that you trust. Another form of this type of fraud is to compromise the website itself and gain access to accounts in that way, either by stealing customer information or redirecting them to a fake website.

Pay close attention to the URL of the website you're using and check if the website is secure before entering your credit card information. Spelling errors, low-quality images, or offers that are too good to be true can also be warning signs of fraud. If you're skeptical, don't make a purchase or look for it in another store you can trust. Your Social Security number can be a very powerful tool for fraudsters, especially if they also obtain other personal information that can be used together to open fraudulent accounts in your name.

This can cause delinquent accounts to appear on your credit reports and affect your credit scores. That's why keeping your Social Security card in your wallet is so risky. Instead, store it in a safe place and shred all documents containing your SSN before throwing them in the trash. When you regularly review your credit reports, check your identifying information carefully.

Variations in your social security number will appear in a list. Names, addresses, or other identifying information that you don't recognize could be signs of fraud. People who have been victims can report it to the Social Security Administration and also notify their state's tax office. Identity fraud involving older people can take many forms, and older people are particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals. This includes tech fraudsters who call to ask for passwords.