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Identity Theft: What You Should Know


There were more than one million incidences of identity theft reported via the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) IdentityTheft.gov website in 2023. Financial identity theft is the most common of the four forms of identity theft. The other forms include medical, criminal, and child identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone misuses the identifying information of a victim to commit fraud or carry out other crimes. Identity thieves use stolen personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, receive medical care, and file tax returns. While identity theft can ruin both your credit and your name, identity thieves are hard to catch and have lower arrest records compared to other types of crime.

Signs of Identify Theft

The lack of personal monitoring can lead to a period of days, months, or even years before identity theft is identified, and it may take even longer to unravel the theft that actually took place. Identity theft cases are unique in nature and victims are tasked with proving someone committed identity theft against them. Data breaches are perhaps the most common means for identity thieves to acquire personal information. A data breach is a security incident that involves the unauthorized access to confidential information. Among the largest data breaches in US History are Yahoo, JPMorgan Chase, and LinkedIn. As was the case with each company, names, email addresses, and phone numbers, among other personally identifiable information (PII), were obtained by scammers to gain valuable information.

Be aware of warning signs that may indicate your identity has been stolen. Mail that has stopped or is missing from your mailbox, debt collection calls regarding accounts that were not opened by you, and denied credit are potential signs that identity theft has occurred. There are several means by which thieves can steal your personal and financial information. Scammers use phishing emails, text messages, and phone calls to get information. Additionally, scammers may install skimmers to steal bank information at fuel pumps, cash registers, and ATM machines. A stolen wallet or purse is yet another means of gaining unauthorized access to photo identification cards, credit cards, and bank cards. Thieves even use social media accounts to collect personal information from photos and posts.

Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft Crimes

Safeguarding personal and financial information is paramount to reducing your risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud. Bank and credit card statements should be reviewed monthly to identify unauthorized or suspicious transactions. Important documents like Social Security cards should be stored in a safe place and not carried in a wallet or purse. Personal and financial information should not be shared over the phone, in a text message, or in an email reply to persons or phone numbers you do not know. When using a public Wi-Fi network, you should verify the connection is encrypted. If it is, the lock symbol, or "https," will appear in the address bar. Furthermore, you should keep up with the latest phone and computer protections via automatic updates. Also, add multi-factor authentication for accounts that make it available. This action makes it more difficult for identity thieves to log into your accounts even if they get access to your username and password.

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This article contains general information only. Sunflower Bank is not, by means of this article, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, before making any decisions related to these matters, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.