Identity theft occurs when a victim’s personal or financial information is used by a third party without consent to steal money or enter into transactions, all the while pretending to be the victim. Fraudsters use numerous methods to perpetrate identity theft, and victims are often left with an array of negative side effects from the fraud, all of which can affect the victim’s credit score and general credit worthiness. 

Identity Theft: Types


There are several types of identity theft. The most typical type of identity theft is financial identity theft, where the fraudster uses the victim’s information to get credit, products, services, or advantages. Someone commits financial identity theft by using the identity or information of another person. The most typical kind of identity theft is this one.

Social Security

There is also Social Security fraud, where the fraudster uses the victim’s SSN to file claims for insurance, disability payments, and other benefits. These are the subsidies and welfare programs offered by governments to the citizens of the nations.


The next is medical identity theft, where a victim’s health insurance information is used to pay for medical services given to a person who isn’t covered by the policy. Depending on the situation, both consumers and providers may submit false medical claims. Sometimes, workers or outside hackers steal the data to sell personal data to make money.


A kind of fraud known as synthetic identity theft involves criminals fabricating or using true information gained via fraud to construct a new identity. This is used to create an account and execute transactions. Through the use of a false name, thieves may steal money from lenders or credit card firms.


A child’s identity is stolen for a variety of nefarious reasons. Because children are not opening new loans or monitoring their credit in general, it is easy for fraudsters to use the child’s identity for years. Scammers can use the child’s identity and social security number to rent an apartment, get a job, qualify for a loan, or escape arrest with a pending warrant. In these situations the perpetrator is usually someone close to the victim, such as a family member or family friend. Sometimes the personal information of deceased loved ones is also stolen.


If someone files a false state or federal tax return on your behalf and receives a refund, they are committing a theft of your personal information. This person may have used personal information, such as a social security number.


In criminal identity theft, a suspect pretends to be someone else during an arrest to evade a summons, hide the fact that a warrant was issued in their name, or stay clear of an arrest or criminal record.

How to Check if Someone is Using My Identity

Depending on the type of identity theft, there are several ways that you can check to see if your identity has been stolen.

Review Your Detailed Credit Report

The most comprehensive and effective way to check if your identity is being used without your permission is to check your credit report with Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals put off checking their credit reports until it is too late. Imagine a scenario where you want to buy a new car from a dealer, but your lender refuses to grant you a line of credit. This might indicate credit fraud.

Every consumer can obtain a detailed and completely free credit report from the big three bureaus once a week. All you need to do is go to Enter your information, and then you will instantaneously get your report online. Once you have your report online, download the report as a PDF and then go through it with a fine tooth comb. If you see any accounts or inquiries that you do not recognize, then there is a good chance that these accounts were opened by a fraudster.

In addition to looking for unauthorized accounts, check your “Hard Inquiries” section that is towards the end of your credit report. This section represents companies that have received credit applications in your name. If there are any inquiries that you do not recognize, there is a good chance that the application was submitted by a fraudster.

Whether it is credit accounts or inquiries, the presence of these items on your credit report can decrease your credit score dramatically and it is important that you remove them as soon as possible. For more information on this, click here.

Check your Credit Card and Bank Statements

Given that 2020 was the first year in history to record more than 2 million incidents of fraud, credit card fraud ranked as the second-most prevalent sort of identity theft in that year.

You can defend yourself against the majority of financial theft by keeping an eye on your bank and credit card statements. Beware of fraudulent transactions and withdrawals on all debit and credit accounts. Don’t dismiss the smaller purchases too, since criminals sometimes begin with a little purchase to see whether a card is functional and to see how watchful the account user is.

If you see an unauthorized charge, it is important that you immediately dispute it with your financial institution. The law demands that victims report these unauthorized charges within as little as 45 days, and if they do not report it in that window, their ability to recover can be waived based on the facts.

For more information on disputing fraudulent charges, click here.

Unexpected Postal Delivery

The contents of your mailbox may be a sign of identity theft. Unusual mail is the first and most noticeable symptom. It can be a symptom of loan fraud if you encounter credit card bills or letters from organizations you don’t know. In other words, someone may be applying for credit cards or loans in your name and building up potentially fraudulent charges that you may be responsible for.

Unemployment scams are a recent kind of fraud; if you get a letter in the mail from the unemployment office with information about benefits you never requested, you have probably fallen victim to identity theft.

Medical identity theft is another potential scenario. In this case, you can get letters from your health insurance provider about new treatments or bills from a doctor’s office you’ve never been to.

Absence of Physical Mail

The absence of tangible mail is another cause for concern.

In reality, Americans had 210 million goods stolen from them in 2021. Packages will be stolen directly off your front doorstep by thieves. They’ll attempt to have all of your letters and parcels delivered to a legitimate address by stealing your mail right out of your mailbox and even requesting a change of address.

If you expect to receive sensitive emails—such as new credit cards or replacement social security cards—it is important to track and be cognizant of whether the letter was delivered when it was supposed to be.

Your Personally Identifying Paperwork Is Missing (or Stolen)

You must always be aware of the whereabouts of all of your sensitive identification papers and credit/debit cards. You might become a victim of identity theft if one or more of the following things are lost or stolen:

  • Phones.
  • Laptop/Computer.
  • Wallet/Purse.
  • Passport.
  • License.
  • Social Security Number.
  • Birth Certificate.
  • Bank Cards.
  • Insurance Papers.

Remove any additional credit cards from your wallet or pocketbook if you rarely or never use them. It’s advisable to just bring one or two credit cards on vacation, along with a single piece of identification like your driver’s license.

If your wallet has a large number of credit cards and you lose your wallet, identity thieves will have a field day.

Never carry your Social Security Card with you until it is necessary. You cannot afford to allow your Social Security number to fall into the hands of scammers since it is the number one item on their want list.

You should get in touch with the Social Security administration right away and submit a replacement card request at if your Social Security card is lost or stolen.

Suspicious voicemails, phone calls, texts, OTP, etc on your devices are also concerning.

Available Remedies for Fraud

There are several ways that identity theft may happen and it affects millions of people in the US each year. The laws, fines, and defenses against identity theft in California are detailed here.

Identity thieves in California run the possibility of facing fines, jail time, or both. A person accused of identity theft might refute the charge by presenting inadequate proof that they have improperly exploited another person’s personal information for any illegal purpose.In California, offenses involving identity theft may result in sentences of up to three years in state prison, as well as fines, court expenses, victim compensation, and parole monitoring upon release.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are rarely prosecuted and brought to justice. However, victims can still obtain justice from the bank. California has the Identity Theft Act, which allows victims to clear their name of any obligation that was fraudulently opened in their name and allows them to recover funds that were fraudulently stolen from them and given to a third party. Additionally, victims of identity theft in California may be entitled to actual damages and statutory damages up to $30,000 if collection activity continued after the entity received notice of the fraud.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you need dedicated lawyers on your side to stick up for your interests. Barthel Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to representing consumers. We represent clients at no out-of-pocket cost to the consumer. If you would like to get advice on what next steps you should take, request a free consultation.