Identity theft is more widespread than most people realize. Identity fraud can impact people of all ages, including children, in places that you wouldn't expect. And then the scammers might sell your private information through illegal markets to the highest bidder.
Here are nine shocking types of identity theft you probably didn't know and you need to watch out:
1. Synthetic identity fraud.
Think that thieves can only still your identity if they have multiple pieces of your information? Think again. With synthetic identity fraud, they just need one real piece of your information and then they can combine it with fake information to steal your ID. This accounts for 85 percent of all U.S. identity fraud.
2. Tax identity fraud.
Armed with just your social security number, someone can easily file a fake tax return in your name and reap the benefits of receiving your tax refund. Fighting this type of identity theft can be very tedious and time-consuming. Early filing is a way to avoid this nightmare.
3. Car identity theft.
A crook can basically duplicate your car's license plate and then begin to rack up traffic violations in your name. And unpaid traffic violations can add up into more fines and jail time that you would have to incur.
4. As a child.
Your children can also be vulnerable to identity theft. Most schools and doctors offices hold private information, such as social security numbers, for each child. If a hacker were to scam those institutions, your child's information would be at risk and they might not even know it until they become an adult.
5. At college.
Colleges are always a prime target for scammers because they are a gold mine of data. If the IT department at the college isn't prepared, then the private information of students and faculty members will be at risk.
6. After death.
Even after you pass away, you can still be a target for identity theft and your loved ones will foot the bill. Driver's licenses and passports are not canceled right away, and most major financial institutions could take up to six months to process death records. That's plenty of time for the scammers to attack.
7. Medical identity theft.
Medical bills in the mail and the records at your doctor's office include most of your private information. And then scammers can also use those records to order prescriptions in your name.
8. In retail stores.
Sometimes when consumers input their banking or credit card information online, a thief can easily hack the digital platform and steal the information. Scams like these are occurring on third-party websites and through other deceptive practices. Consumers should only submit their information online when the websites are secure.
Cover image via iStock