The identity thieves who have stolen your identity have your full name, address, email address, online login and passwords, Social Security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or bank number. You can’t even imagine what they can do with your identity.
Many people think the scammers are using someone’s identity only for financial gains. Apart from financial fraud, there are so many crimes and ways by which identity thieves use personal information.
Your pain doesn’t matter to the scammers, as how much you are suffering as a victim of identity theft can be understood by only yourself. It doesn’t only impact your financial situation; it also affects the life of a victim emotionally, physically, and socially. Before discussing what identity thieves do with your information, let’s know the long-term impacts of identity theft on a victim’s life.
What do Identity Thieves do with Personal Information?
In the last section, you have read how serious crime impacts the victim’s life. Have a look! This section will discuss what identity thieves do with anyone’s identity and put them at a huge loss.
1. Apply for a Credit Card
If the scammer has the social security number of anyone and wants financial gains, they may apply for a credit card, which is one of the common frauds committed by identity thieves. They withdraw the credit limit amount and never repay it. The victim has to return the amount to the financial institution.
2. Take Out Loans
When a scammer has access to your bank accounts and your credit score is good, then he or she may take out a new loan in your name. However, they must change the email and text alert address in your bank records before doing this. Therefore, you won’t know what is happening behind your back.
3. Intercept Tax Refund
The scammers who have social security numbers, date of birth, and name of anyone may intercept the tax refund by filing a fake tax return. The victim will find it when they file their tax return, and it gets rejected. Otherwise, they don’t even know that someone has already grabbed for which they are hugely excited.
4. Cover Medical Treatment
Not only the lavish items, as the scammers also use your social security number and health insurance account numbers to cover the medical benefits. In most cases, the identity thieves use your same address and phone number, as their purpose is to get treatment or medications. They don’t stay at the spot for a long time so that no one can find them. The scammers receive treatment, prescriptions by covering your medical benefits, and when you need it, you find that someone has already grabbed it.
5. Flight With Airline Miles
If the scammer has access to your airline miles account, then he or she can book a flight in your name or even redeem cash. However, it is really easy to convert airline miles into cash. They won’t leave a single aspect to put you at a huge loss. Not all Americans are concerned about it and use it to track their airline miles account once in a while. So, it became easy for the scammers to steal the benefits of your airline miles and didn’t get caught for a long time.
6. Utility Accounts
According to the FTC, 29% of cases of identity fraud in 2016 were committed by opening several utility accounts such as electricity, gas, or cell phone companies by using stolen social security numbers. After opening the utility accounts, the hackers run up tabs on your name and address accounts. The frauds call the victims and pretend to be the executive of the utility company, threatening to turn off the service if you don’t pay up. In most cases, victims didn’t check their past payments and immediately made the payment after receiving threat calls from the scammers. However, many times the scammers have to face failures also while using this way of stealing money.
7. Criminal Charges
As a victim, you might not want to get arrested by police, but it depends on the crime committed by using your identity. If the scammer has broken any law and left your identity on the crime spot, then the police will immediately come to your house to arrest you. It happens many times when a criminal uses someone’s identity to commit a pre-planned crime. The victim is automatically involved in the crime either if they were not there. However, the victim didn’t get enough time to prove they weren’t criminals for whom the police looked.
8. Rent an Apartment
Now, sometimes renting an apartment is only for financial gains by using your identity and financial standing. The scammers have your identity, and they can use it anywhere, including renting an apartment. But in rare cases, if a criminal has your identity and is planning to commit a big crime, then he or she may rent an apartment in your name to run their operation. So, police will find more clues against the victim, and there is no chance to catch the true criminal.
9. Social Media
Scammers also use social media to steal money as if they have access to your social media accounts; they try to steal money from your known ones. They act like you are in trouble and you want some money. The process happens in terms of borrowing money by using your social media from your known ones.
10. Unemployment Benefits
As we mentioned earlier, the scammers won’t leave any single aspect to steal possible money from your identity. Either you are working somewhere and aren’t aware that a hacker is using your identity. The scammers fill out a request for unemployment to cover the government benefits.
11. Dark Web
After stealing someone’s identity, the exposed data ends up on the dark web, as some part of the internet is interested in buying identities. Once the scammer has stolen all your money by using your social security number in several ways, they don’t need your identity anymore. They sell it on the internet, where they get paid $110 for one social security number. The credit card sold out for $1 each, and a U.S. passport sells for up to $2,000.
Various Effects Identity Theft Can Have On You
The financial impact of identity theft on a victim’s life can last for months or years. The hardship depends on the data on which identity thieves have put their hands and how much time it takes to recover. Some of the examples are:
- If the thief has impacted your credit files, then it may take years to restore good credit.
- The compromised bank accounts may take months to be closed and cleaned. You may have to open a bank account.
- The victim has to work with the social security administration for months if the thief has obtained a social security number for employment.
- The IRS department may charge a significant amount if you are found in a tax refund fraud. However, it may take some more time to prove you are a victim of identity theft, but still, you may have to pay a serious amount to the IRS department.
- The identity thieves may also take over your investment then it may impact your retirement, mortgage, and your child’s education.
- If the identity thief has some sensitive information like a social security number, he or she may use it until you realize you are a victim of identity theft. The red flag on your social security card may put you at a huge loss for years.
- The legal fees and advice will also impact your finances for the long term.
Perhaps identity theft has fewer impacts on emotional toll, but a faceless crime often triggers a host of emotional reactions. The first one is anger and initial shock.
- It is highly stressful to restore your identity.
- Your employment loss may affect your self-worth.
- You might not be able to clear up the confusion about how it happened.
- Sometimes victims start claiming their family members, and it affects the emotions of the entire family, including the victim.
- The victim also blames him or herself; how can I be so careless.
- The helpless feeling is the most critical one.
- The fear of other financial safety is reported in around 69 percent of victims.
- Nearly 8 percent of victims are reported feeling suicidal.
- The messy trail of identity theft also affects the sleeping and eating routine of the victim.
- Sometimes it may lead to depression and isolation.
- The victims get irritated by proving to the debt collectors that the debt isn’t theirs. The challenging steps to prove the debt isn’t yours are highly stressful.
According to a 2016 survey, 89 percent of identity theft victims are suffering from huge physical challenges. No one can bear depression from a serious financial loss; it may lead to heart attacks a lot of time. 10 percent of the victims had to leave their job because of physical illness.
- Getting arrested because of a crime committed by another person is a highly stressful event.
- Sometimes victims have to lose their homes and face huge crises physically and financially.
- The victims have to face many physical challenges and stress while obtaining new job offers.
- Clearing the criminal charges on your name takes a lot of effort.
- The victim has to adapt to many challenges to find the real criminal by working daily with the department.
- Around every victim stated they can’t sleep and eat well, leading to several physical illnesses.
- Suppose you are a medical identity theft victim. In that case, you may have to pay a lot for your running treatment of any illness, as the theft has already claimed your medical insurance, and you cannot cover medical benefits anymore.
- A person who belongs from a middle-class family, and if his or her entire savings are stolen, then might their soft heart can’t bear it.
Undoubtedly, the victims of identity theft have to lose their social reputations. Their credit files are badly harmed, and their reputation in financial institutions is compromised. They can’t cover the benefits of banking and the good credit they have made with a lot of effort in their past life.
- The victims may have to lose their job and reputation in their office also got eliminated.
- The identity thefts also have your social media accounts passwords as they may spoil your reputation on several platforms.
- It may impact your relationships, as someone else is using your identity and social media platforms.
- If the identity theft has stolen your social security number and committed IRS fraud, you can no longer cover the IRS benefits and are established as a fraud in the records.
- The most critical social loss happens when the victims get arrested.
There isn’t any shortage of ways scammers can use someone’s identity, and also they are looking for other creative ideas. The worst thing in most cases, the victims didn’t realize it for years. There isn’t any foolproof method to prevent identity fraud, but if you are concerned about it, you may save yourself from a huge loss.
The steps are too easy, as we discussed in our other blog. Apart from the prevention methods from identity thieves, buying identity theft insurance is also a good idea to save possible money.