Like the thieves behind the crime, identity theft can take on many disguises depending on the information stolen. When identity theft goes undetected, these crimes can not only cost victims their money, but also their health and well-being.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid identity theft, but awareness and vigilance are key to fixing the problem if you do get hit.
As each kind of identity theft could be more deadly than the next, here are three particularly dangerous types of identity theft.
Child ID Theft
- What makes it dangerous: Thieves often go after children’s identities through stealing data from schools or even taking their relatives’ information. Children will likely not know they were victims until they grow older and are denied for their first loan, credit card or even housing because of a poor credit history. This blemished credit report could cause them to be denied new lines of credit, which could stunt their financial wealth.
- How to avoid this identity theft: Check your child’s credit by requesting a free credit report (you can get your own credit reports for free once a year) and dispute and close any unauthorized accounts that were opened.
Medical ID Theft
- What makes it dangerous: Although consumers may think their medical information is not a target for cybercriminals, healthcare companies are becoming increasingly targeted. Data breaches in the healthcare sector could result in your information falling into the hands of thieves who could then use this data to take advantage of medical services. A report by the Ponemon Institute recently found medical identity theft rose 22% in 2014, resulting in patients’ health information potentially being mixed up with thieves’, which could lead to potentially deadly medical mistakes.
- How to avoid this identity theft: Always read the data privacy statement your healthcare provider gives you before agreeing to the terms and monitor your accounts in case of fraud.
Tax ID Theft
- What makes it dangerous: Tax fraud through identity theft is an easy way for criminals to make money. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service gave out $ 5.8 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.
- How to avoid this identity theft: File your income taxes early each tax season and shred any and all documents with your personal information on it.
While medical identity theft is dangerous in almost every aspect of your well-being – from a health to a financial standpoint – these other types of identity theft could also pose a threat to your or your loved ones’ futures. By protecting your personal information, you could help curb this crime and keep yourself from becoming a victim. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com. Any large, unexpected changes in your score could signal new-account fraud and a sign that other serious forms of identity theft are on the way.
- How to Use Free Credit Monitoring
- The Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen
- How to Get Your Free Annual Credit Reports
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.