Identity fraud can strike at any moment, and that is why it is important to have the right knowledge to fight against it. However, with so many resources online, it may be difficult to know where to start.
Understanding the basics about identity fraud is essential, and that includes knowing about different kinds of identity fraud along with the various risk factors. Computer users should be aware of the services that help prevent sensitive data from being stolen. In the event of identity theft, victims should know how to minimize the damage.
The resources below provide detailed information and tools on all of these points, allowing for a greater understanding of identity fraud and its prevention.
See also: 36 Identity theft statistics
Learning the Basics About Identity Fraud
These resources offer a comprehensive overview of identity fraud, including educational articles on data security, current scams and assistance for victims:
Identity Theft Resource Center – This website was established to support victims of identity theft by providing resources on recent data breaches and current scams that leave individuals vulnerable to identity theft. It also lists assistance resources for victims according to the type of identity theft they were involved in (medical, financial, child, etc.).
InfoSec Institute – The InfoSec Institute provides comprehensive learning tools and guides for a variety of data security topics. Users can research how to keep their data secure from hacking attempts and phishing attacks. They can also access a complete guide describing the information sources that identity thieves usually target and the criminal methods used to access these sources.
Different Types of Identity Fraud
These websites provide useful information for understanding identity fraud that is aimed at particular types of data, such as business data, medical data and the data of children:
Business Identity Fraud
BusinessIDTheft.org – This organization seeks to fight identity fraud targeted specifically at businesses. It discusses the identity fraud risks that businesses face and how to help avoid them. A particularly helpful resource on this website is the Business Identity Theft Victim Action List, which tells business owners the exact steps they should take if they believe their business has been targeted.
MarkMonitor – This service offers tools specifically for protecting businesses from identity theft. Services include daily domain registration reporting, the ability to monitor hundreds of millions of emails per day and special client support managers for businesses.
Medical Identity Fraud
Medical Identity Fraud Alliance – The MIFA fights against medical identity fraud by advocating for key issues like modernizing health care cards and allocating more insurance company resources to prevent fraud. In addition to offering security tips for both consumers and providers of medical services, the MIFA also occasionally organizes events for its members.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – This official U.S. government resource provides an overview on how to protect medical information, how to watch out for common medical fraud schemes and how victims can report medical fraud. It includes official government helplines for American victims of medical identity fraud.
Coalition Against Insurance Fraud – This organization aims to give consumers the knowledge and power to fight back against many types of insurance fraud. It has a webpage dedicated to medical insurance fraud which discusses what criminals do with stolen medical information and the consequences faced by the victims. It also outlines how to go through the difficult process of correcting medical records and how to alert law enforcement authorities.
Child Identity Fraud
Out of Your Hands – This website provides unique resources aimed at educating children about identity theft in a fun way. Using games, dramatic skits and other entertaining activities, Out of Your Hands illustrates to children what makes up an identity, what kinds of information we store in common devices like phones and how a child’s own daily activities could be risky.
InternetMatters.org – This organization educates parents on how to recognize the signs that their child’s identity has been stolen. It also provides tools that help parents talk to their children about privacy and being careful with personal data. Parents have access to a specific list of actions they can take to make their children’s online environment more secure.
Determining If You Are at Risk of Having Data Stolen
There are many ways that sensitive information can get into the hands of identity thieves. The websites in this section explore common hacking methods, data breaches and risk factors that give fraudsters access to important data.
Hacking and Data Breaches
These resources describe the various ways that hackers get sensitive data:
Information Security Buzz – A website that provides free resources and training on keeping computer data safe from hackers. This page outlines and describes 10 of the most common methods used by hackers to steal data from individuals and businesses, including social engineering, password hacking and SQL injections.
World’s Biggest Data Breaches, by Information Is Beautiful – An interactive chart that lets users see the timeline of the biggest data breaches from 2004 to the present. The chart automatically categorizes breaches by number of records stolen, but users can change this and view by other metrics, like data sensitivity. Users can even filter results according to industry and method of leak.
DataBreachToday – A website that provides articles and guides on information security, privacy, fraud and data management. Specific coverage on data breaches includes insights on the latest threats, predictions about the evolution of cybersecurity and journalistic commentary on the politics of information security.
Common Identity Theft Risk Factors
The websites below highlight some common risk factors for identity theft, enabling users to determine if they themselves are in danger of being victimized:
The Identity Theft IQ Test – Offered by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the Identity Theft IQ Test asks a variety of questions about data security, credit record awareness and computer usage – among other factors – in order to place users in one of three categories that describe their risk of falling victim to identity fraud.
Comparitech’s Guide to Identity Theft – In addition to answering common questions about who is at risk of identity theft, Comparitech’s identity theft guide provides research and tips on what services can be used to protect against identity theft.
Protecting Against Identity Fraud
Although anyone could become a victim of identity fraud, certain preventative measures make it more difficult for thieves to steal data. The resources below describe some of these measures, which include installing antivirus software, getting a VPN and subscribing to a data monitoring service:
Antivirus Software Resources
One of the most common ways that hackers get access to sensitive data is through viruses and malware installed on the computers of their unsuspecting victims. Installing antivirus software is one simple step computer users can take to prevent this type attack. Comparitech’s antivirus software overview enables users to evaluate what kinds of software may be best for them.
VPN Overview and Reviews
VPNs are great for protecting privacy online and preventing hackers from intercepting data, especially when using high-risk internet connections like public wifi. Comparitech’s VPN overview describes more benefits of VPNs and educates consumers on how to choose a provider.
Data Monitoring Resources
There are a variety of services that alert users if their personal or business data is found in a place where it shouldn’t be. These data monitoring services regularly scan credit reports, criminal records, investment activity, and other online sources where personal details may pop up in the event of identity theft. These services include OwlDetect, ID Pro Guard and LifeLock.
For more information, Comparitech offers a guide that explores some of these services and others like them.
Credit Monitoring Resources
Although not as comprehensive as the services described above, credit reports can be used to monitor credit data only. Several credit report services offer specific advice on identity fraud:
Experian – A credit monitoring service for U.S. and UK consumers
Equifax – A credit monitoring service for U.S. and UK consumers
TransUnion – A credit monitoring service for U.S. consumers
Callcredit – A credit monitoring service for UK consumers
Resources to Consult If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
IDT911 – IDT911 offers comprehensive education and assistance for those whose identities have been stolen, including identity management, credit monitoring, response and remediation services, and cyber security consulting.
IdentityTheft.gov – An official U.S. government website that allows users to report if they have been victims of identity theft. It also provides victims with a personalized recovery plan based on the specific information they have provided. Users can even create accounts in order to receive step-by-step instructions on how to progress with their recovery plans, update plans with new information if required, and make use of pre-filled forms and letters.