If you’re like most people, when you think of identity theft, you probably think of stolen money. This is definitely one of the most feared aspects of identity theft. After all, who wants to show up at their bank only to find out that their account has been drained?
Unfortunately, the truth about how identity thieves can use your information is much scarier than losing your money. You won’t believe all the ways a criminal can use your information!
- Opening new accounts in your name
Next to stealing your money, an identity thief is most likely to open new accounts in your name. Most commonly, identity thieves will take out new credit cards and max them out, but they have also been known to open new bank accounts, insurance accounts, and they have even been known to open new utility accounts. Really, the sky’s the limit once they have your personal information! Unfortunately, these activities can tank your credit score.
- Obtain a cell phone or make a big purchase
Identity theft is most lucrative when a thief is able to establish an account or make a purchase that would normally require monthly payments or an extensive background check. A couple of favorites among thieves are obtaining cell phones and making big purchases.
Cell phone plans often require a credit check, so using your information is a great way to get a cell phone that a thief may not be able to get otherwise.
There are quite a few dream items that are within a thief’s reach once your identity has been stolen. Buying a new car is a great way to use someone else’s information.
- Obtain official government documents
This is arguably one of the scariest items on this list because with your information, an identity thief can obtain official government documents in your name. It’s the first step to engaging in many of the fraudulent activities on this list.
- Rent an apartment, buy a home, or refinance the home you already own
Not only can thieves use your information to apply for a new cell phone or buy a new car, they can also use your information to rent an apartment or purchase a home. Even if you don’t end up paying for these items, obtaining a loan in the future can be a real challenge if the lender thinks you own two homes and four cars!
Thieves don’t stop there. If they need a little cash, they can pose as you and refinance the home you already have. They could walk away with tens of thousands of dollars, and you could be stuck paying for your house all over again.
- Take out student loans
If only, after learning that your information was obtained and used for student loans, you could feel good knowing you helped fund someone’s education. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Instead, identity thieves apply for loan after loan, with no intention of spending it on education. Instead, you’re stuck with the bill while they spend the money however they wish.
- Obtain medical care
Unfortunately, medical bills are extremely expensive, which makes identity fraud an option for people who require medical care, but do not have insurance. If you think the paperwork surrounding your medical history is confusing now, just wait until someone has entered the hospital under your name!
- Commit a crime
This is possibly the worst, and scariest, way a thief can use your information. After obtaining the proper government documents, you could end up with a criminal record because someone else decided to use your good name to engage in criminal activity.
Criminals can even use your information to file bankruptcy and fraudulent tax returns! That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand the signs that your identity has been stolen, and to consider signing up for an identity theft plan.