There are some things in life we often don’t really plan for and we never really know exactly what to do should they happen to us, simply because we never really think they’d actually happen to us. You hear it happening to other people, perhaps even in their numbers and yet until it actually happens to someone close to you or directly to you, you sort of put off putting down a plan that you’ll follow should the worst happen.
Identity theft is one such misfortune many people don’t pay too much attention to because “it always seems to happen to someone else,” right? Quite a few movies and television shows have featured storylines around identity theft, which is perhaps another reason why people tend not to associate it with something that could happen in real life.
Perhaps referring to it as a misfortune is the first mistake we make because it’s more than just bad luck which would have you become a victim of identity theft. It’s more than just a misfortune, but more of an odds game. When illicit hackers manage to breach some of the systems of organisations and even just regular websites which store mass data, there’s always an underground race to see if they can’t exploit this information they’ve come into before anyone even notices what’s happened.
Identity theft can happen on the smallest of scales or it can turn really nasty, so you need to be prepared and know exactly what to do should either scenario play out and affect you directly.
Early Signs You’ve Been a Victim of Identity Theft
If you notice a spike in the amount of spam you’re receiving, this could be an early sign that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Fortunately this is perhaps the mildest form of identity theft where someone has only but learned that your email is an active one linked to a real person and so they try to lure you into completing actions that could lead to a more serious case of identity theft. In this instance, merely updating your password across as many platforms you use online as possible is a great step to take and while you’re at it, always double check that any email message you get is not a phishing attempt.
Just to be safe however, keep records of when you first suspected you might be a victim of identity theft and keep any correspondence in support of this just so that you can perhaps present it as evidence if needs be.
More Serious Cases of Identity Theft
Identity thieves are smooth operators and things can go south very quickly once they have all which they need to impersonate you. It’s important to keep a level head, but if for instance something like some unauthorised activity on your bank account all but confirms that your identity has been stolen, immediately involve your local authorities just so that you can lay legitimate claim to having nothing to do with any illegal activity that ensues.
Keep in mind that a lot of the time the actual identity thief who has gained access to your personal information isn’t the one who ends up using it for illicit activities. There’s a huge underground market which thrives on things like credit card numbers and other personal information and credentials like your email address, home address, mobile phone number and identity / social security number.
You can try and combat the illicit activities your stolen identity is being used for as they happen, but what’s ultimately important is to keep evidence and records of the fact that it isn’t you who is engaging in all the illegal activity. The digital trail can often be traced quite well, but it will naturally take time to reverse things like financial transactions.