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By Rick Boeth - Oct. 22, 2018
With any kind of theft, the loss and distress can be deeply unsettling. But when your identity is stolen, the damage can follow you for years.
When thieves learn your name, Social Security number, date of birth or other identifying information, they can target your bank accounts or apply for new credit cards or mortgages in your name.
In a type of identity theft called cloning, a perpetrator actually assumes your identity in another location in an attempt to defraud you. They may use your Social Security number for employment, get medical treatment on your health insurance, or file fraudulent tax returns.
Source: 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Report, The Federal Trade Commission.
Thieves can acquire your information a variety of ways. We often blame technology, but many thieves do it the old fashioned way. They simply steal it—from your trash, mailbox, wallet or purse.
The bad guys can also trick victims into divulging personal or financial information through phone scams or online through websites, email or social media.
More and more, data breaches expose personal information—like when thieves steal and use customer data at a business, a store, for example. In 2016, more than 30 percent of people who lost control of their personal information via data breaches later became victims of identity theft.
Source: Identity Theft Resource Center
Seniors' regular income and accumulated assets put them at greater risk for financial exploitation.
Read more about elder financial abuse.
2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, Javelin Strategy & Research.
More than a million children were victims of identity theft in 2017. Thieves use real and fabricated personal details to create a synthetic identity before a parent even notices the stolen information.
With so many options for identity thieves, the odds of losing control of your personal information are higher than ever. Take steps now to protect yourself.
Personal monitoring catches half of identity theft crimes. If you notice something unusual, don't dismiss it. Always pay close attention to your bank accounts, credit cards and other bills, your physical mail and email. Timing is critical, so if something doesn't add up, take action.
For specific warning signs or to report identity theft, go to identitytheft.gov , a site the Federal Trade Commission runs. You can create a personal recovery plan to deal with the specific type of identity theft you may be experiencing.
At American Century Investments®, we're committed to securing your personal information, no matter how you choose to do business with us. Check out our Security Center to learn more about safeguarding your financial accounts and your identity.
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Anyone can be a victim of identity theft. And when it goes unnoticed, the financial damage can take years to repair.
The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.