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In 2018, there were 1,244 data breaches in the U.S., and more than 446 million records were exposed, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. There are several forms of identity theft, and each one can affect you in a different way.

There's no way to inoculate yourself against identity theft completely. But if you're diligent in learning how your information can be at risk and what fraudsters can do with it, you'll be better equipped to protect your data and act quickly if someone does manage to steal it.


Due to the nature of technology and the internet, your personal information is always at risk. If you're not carefully monitoring your credit file, you may not notice you've been victimized until the damage is already done.

Here are 10 of the most common ways identity thieves get hold of your data:


  1. Data Breaches

  2. Unsecure Browsing

  3. Dark Web Marketplaces

  4. Malware Activity

  5. Credit Card Theft

  6. Mail Theft

  7. Phishing and Spam Attacks

  8. Wi-Fi Hacking

  9. Mobile Phone Theft

  10. Card Skimming

How Identity Theft Can Affect You


Depending on the type of theft that occurs, and how the criminal uses your information, identity theft can result in immediate financial loss, damage to your credit and emotional distress. It can also take anywhere from less than a day to several months or even years to resolve the issue.


As you work on recovering from identity theft, you may end up dealing with late payments, medical bills, and even IRS penalties requiring investigations and long-term assistance if you are a tax identity theft victim. It can also result in losing account access, having your personal accounts taken over by thieves and general loss of data privacy.

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