The 2014 theft of not only large quantities of customer information from major retailers, but also United States citizen data from government agencies makes the vulnerability of private information abundantly clear. In fact, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, more than 14 percent of 2 million complaints that were filed with the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U. S. Secret Service and other organizations in 2013 relate to identity theft.
While the 2013 number of complaints is astounding, it doesn’t account for the health data breach at Anthem, described by Forbes as “the largest for profit managed-health company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.” This data breach may have granted criminals access to as many as 80 million patient records. But in addition to medical identity theft, the unauthorized use of personal information takes other forms as well.
Identity Theft Defined
The National Science Foundation describes identify theft as the use of a victim’s personal information, such as name, social security number or debit or credit card number, by an unauthorized party with the intent to commit fraud or another criminal act.
Identity thieves obtain their victim’s personal information using a variety of means. For instance, the criminals may gain unauthorized access to the computers of major companies or the government and export the private information of American citizens that’s stored there. In some cases, the criminals use the exported debit and credit card data to buy things. In other cases, the criminals use private information to apply for credit or government, insurance and other benefits.
Tax Identity Theft Defined
When a tax payer’s social security number falls in the hands of an identity thief, he may use it to apply for a job or misdirect the tax payer’s refund to his own account. In the latter case, the victim may be unaware that he’s a victim until he’s notified by the IRS that he’s been paid a refund that was actually paid to the identity thief. A victim might also become aware of the crime when notified that multiple tax returns were filed using his social security number.
The Meaning of Medical Identity Theft
A criminal can use another person’s name or health insurance number to receive medical care or obtain a prescription for which a medical provider files a claim with the victim’s insurance company to receive payment for services rendered. Consequently, the victim’s medical and treatment records and payment records maintained by his insurance company are mixed with those of the criminal. As a result, the insurance company total will total the expenses of the victim and the criminal to determine if an insured has reached his “annual benefit maximum.”
According to the FTC, the crime may remain undetected for some time unless the victim is asked to pay a bill for medical services he did not receive. Other indications of medical identity theft are unrecognizable collection notices on your credit report, a health plan notification that the victim’s insured limit has been reached and a denial of medical insurance due to a condition the victim does not have.
Child Identity Theft Explained
A thief can obtain a child’s social security number and use it to apply for government benefits, or open a bank or credit card account, as well as a utility service account and rental agreement. In some cases, a criminal obtains a child’s private information from a school district or other organization, such as a hospital or physician’s office.
On occasion, child identity theft is not reported because a parent might disregard warning signals, such as notices of pre-approved credit cards in the child’s name says TransUnion, an information solutions company. According to the company, other red flags include the inability of a parent to open a bank account because an account already exists, the existence of a credit report and the receipt of correspondence that indicates a credit application is denied due to poor credit.
Senior Identity Theft Described
The assets targeted by senior identity theft include a senior’s tax and government benefits, as well as a senior’s medical and long-term care benefits or savings. These assets are vulnerable in part due to the number of agencies and organizations that have access to the personal information of seniors.
According to a study conducted by ManageURiD, an identity protection company, criminals often use telemarketing scams to obtain private information from seniors. Identity thieves may also steal the wallets or paperwork of seniors to get personal information they need to open new credit card accounts, take out loans, refinance a victim’s home, or obtain medical care.
The frequent theft of private information from the computers of corporations and government agencies alike makes the vulnerability of this information abundantly clear. Although, this crime if often referred to as identify theft, there are different types of identity theft, each of which targets different organizations and individuals.