Identity Theft Protection

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a fraudster steals your personal data (such as your name, address, phone number, social security number, credit card number, passport number, IDs, driver’s license number, etc.) and other forms of your identity to commit fraud and/or sells it on the Dark Web. Identity thieves typically have one common goal: to steal your personally identifiable information (PII) and use it to get a payday. There are many ways that criminals can take advantage of a stolen identity, for example:

  • Access your online accounts
  • Solicit your friends & family members via phishing attempts
  • File a medical claim in your name
  • Open a new utility account in your name
  • Commit a crime with your identity

How does identity theft happen?

Unfortunately, it’s easier than ever for criminals to access your personal information. Thieves can target you with phishing emails, hack your online accounts, steal your sensitive documents, or simply buy your information on the Dark Web after a data breach for as little as a few dollars. Learn more about each of these techniques below.

What is phishing and how can it lead to identity theft?

Phishing occurs when fraudsters pose as trusted sources like a bank, government agency, utility company, or even someone you know to trick you into giving up personal information or account credentials, sending them money, or downloading malware onto your devices. Phishing attacks can take place via emails, fraudulent text messages, social media messages, or phone calls. Once they obtain your information, the fraudsters can then use it to steal your identity.

What is a data breach and how can it lead to identity theft?

A data breach is a security incident that exposes sensitive, confidential data to unauthorized third parties. Once they obtain your information, the fraudsters can then use it to steal your identity. The exposed information can include:

  • IDs like Social Security Numbers and driver’s licenses
  • Personal Identifiable Information like dates of birth or phone numbers
  • Bank account credentials and credit card numbers
  • Login credentials like emails, usernames, passwords, and mobile device passcodes
  • Medical records and insurance information
  • Private photos, videos, or text messages

It’s almost guaranteed that your sensitive information — including your Social Security number — has been leaked at least once in a data breach. You can learn more about data breaches in this article by Aura.

What is the Dark Web and how can it lead to identity theft?

The Dark Web (also known as the Darknet) is an anonymous part of the internet that is not accessible through traditional search engines and web browsers like Chrome or Firefox. Unlike the “Surface Web” which is accessible to everyone, or even the “Deep Web” — which includes password-protected sites like your email account — the “Dark Web” can only be accessed using special encrypted browsers like the TOR browser.

The danger of the Dark Web lies in the anonymity that it provides. Because of this anonymity, the Dark Web is the perfect setting for scammers to buy and sell user data in unregulated marketplaces.

Use our Dark Web Scanner to check your email address and see if any of your passwords have been compromised. You can learn more about the Dark Web in this article by Aura.

Protect Yourself

What can criminals do with my stolen info?

Cybercriminals use many different tactics to steal personal information and commit identity theft, typically for financial gain. They can take over your accounts, steal your money, open lines of credit in your name, and even collect healthcare or government benefits fraudulently—potentially leaving you with a mess to untangle and ruining your credit. But hackers can use your info for other forms of cyber attacks like posting embarrassing posts on your social media accounts, committing crimes in your name, or contacting your loved ones for phishing attempts.

How do I know if my identity has been stolen?

If you notice any of these warning signs of identity theft, your bank account, identity, and reputation could be at risk:

  • Unfamiliar charges on your bank statement
  • Strange or unrecognized credit card charges
  • New credit cards or loans in your name
  • Unexpected calls from debt collectors
  • You’re denied credit
  • Bounced checks (if you know you have available funds)
  • A sudden drop in your credit score
  • Hard inquiries on your credit report
  • Calls verifying unfamiliar purchases
  • Your health insurance benefits limit is maxed out
  • Unfamiliar medical bills
  • Inaccurate information in your medical files
  • Someone stole your income tax refund
  • There’s a warrant out for your arrest
  • Reported income that’s not yours
  • Missing mail
  • Your utilities are suddenly shut off
  • Unfamiliar bills or packages arrive at your home
  • You can’t sign in to an account
  • An account looks different when you log in
  • Suspicious login attempts to your social media or other accounts
  • Authentication messages for accounts you don’t recognize
  • Emails alerting you of a data breach
  • You receive a fraud alert

What should I do if my identity is stolen?

A good start to resolving your identity theft issues includes:

  • Contacting the credit bureaus to place a “one-year fraud alert”
  • Disputing fraudulent activity with the bureaus
  • Notifying creditors and any government agencies where your information was used fraudulently
  • Reporting fraudulent activity to local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies and requesting an “Identity Theft Report”
  • Contacting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Filling out the Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit
  • Keeping good records and documenting everything

As part of your MetLife Legal Plan, you have access to Aura’s Fraud Resolution Experts who are on standby to help restore your identity. Call us at X.

You can also visit our Resolution Resources page for important contacts and educational materials.

What is a fraud alert?

A fraud alert flags your credit report and recommends that lenders verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit. In most cases, this means you’ll receive a phone call confirming any new accounts or loans. Here’s what happens if you have a fraud alert in place:

  • If an inquiry is made into your credit history: you’ll get a call from a lender confirming your identity. Only after you agree will the lender process an application for a new credit account.
  • If someone tries to take out loans or open new accounts: You should get a call to authorize new accounts that you didn’t request. You can deny the request and protect yourself from the attempted identity theft.

Fraud alerts are free and have no impact on your credit report or credit scores. You can still request your free annual credit report if you have a fraud alert set up. Learn more about fraud alerts and how to set them up in this article by Aura.

What is an Identity Theft Report?

An Identity Theft Report is the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) resource for reporting identity theft to the FTC and law enforcement. Your Identity Theft Report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity and guarantees you certain rights. It can also help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report and stop a company from collecting debts caused by identity. If you are a victim of identity theft, reporting it to the FTC is one of the first steps you should take. Visit to file a report and get your personal recovery plan.

How can I prevent identity theft?

While no one can completely prevent identity theft, there are steps that you can take to secure your identity and protect your finances, benefits, and reputation from scammers. To help prevent identity theft, you need to stop criminals from accessing your personal information, online accounts, and devices. Here’s what you can do to secure yourself and your family from identity thieves.

  • Freeze your credit
  • Review your credit card, bank, and financial account statements
  • Secure your online accounts
  • Install antivirus software
  • Learn to spot a phishing attack
  • Check URLs or use Safe Browsing tools
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi (without a VPN)
  • Reduce your online footprint
  • Scrub “People Finder” websites
  • Be cautious in public with sensitive information
  • Safeguard your mailbox
  • Use biometric security
  • Scan the Dark Web
  • Use email aliases
  • Use a digital wallet

You can learn more about identity theft prevention in this article by Aura.

Can identity theft affect my credit?

Yes. Identity thieves can open up lines of credit in your name with your stolen information. If you are not aware of the bills that they rack up and/or don’t pay the bills, your credit history can be negatively affected. We recommend locking or freezing your credit file if you are the victim of identity theft. Securing your credit with a credit freeze will limit access to your credit report and prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name.

Can someone really hack into my device and steal my identity?

Malicious hackers can easily hack your Wi-Fi network, take over remote access of your computer, or hack your passwords with phishing attacks. To protect your personal information, sensitive documents, and financial accounts, you need to secure your devices. So how do hackers get into your computer?

Hackers compromise networks and devices by exploiting weaknesses in their built-in security systems. Malicious hackers (also known as black hat hackers) do this in order to gain unauthorized access to personal information. Here are just a few ways that cybercriminals can hack their way into your computer:

  • Malware and other viruses. Scammers may send you fake texts or emails with links that contain malware. If you click on the link, your device will be infected — allowing the hackers to crawl your computer for sensitive data or use spyware to spy on you in the background.
  • Tech support scams. Hackers contact you via emails or pop-ups claiming that your computer has been compromised with a virus. These messages appear to be sent from reputable security companies (as in the recent Geek Squad scams) — convincing you to call the tech support number in the message. The hacker asks for access to your computer in order to fix the made-up problem, but takes control of your device instead.
  • Taking advantage of outdated software. Software updates from your service providers are specifically designed to address security vulnerabilities. If your operating system or web browsers aren’t up to date, hackers can break in by taking advantage of known security issues.
  • Hacking your Wi-Fi network. Weak passwords, outdated firmware models, and missed software updates in your router’s settings leave your network vulnerable. Gaining control of personal devices that are connected to a weakened network can be as simple as hacking into the Wi-Fi network itself.
  • Phishing attacks that request remote access. Hackers pose as well-known businesses or government agencies and send a phishing email, text, or phone call that contains an urgent message. When the target clicks on the link provided in the email, they’re taken to a bogus website that immediately compromises their device. Alternatively, victims are tricked into sharing access to their computers by following the scammer’s directions over the phone.
  • Buying your passwords on the Dark Web. The Dark Web is a place where hackers go to buy and sell stolen information. If your sensitive information was exposed in a data breach, access to all of your private accounts could be up for grabs.

Protect Your Family

Why would someone steal my child’s identity?

Child identity theft is more common than you think. In fact, children are 51x more vulnerable to identity theft than parents [*]. Why? Because kids don’t have credit reports or financial histories, and their identities are valuable “blank slates” for cybercriminals. Few families monitor their children’s personal information, so it’s easier for scammers to go undetected when using it to take out credit cards and loans. Many victims of child identity theft have no idea that their credit has been damaged until years later when they apply for student loans or jobs.

Learn how to protect your child from identity theft in this article by Aura.

What is elder fraud and why do identity thieves target seniors?

Elder fraud is any scam that targets older adults and exploits them for monetary gain, such as financial fraud or identity theft. Typically, a scammer will deceive senior citizens with false promises of goods or services.

Once they gain their trust, scam artists go after financial details, health insurance, or even physical possessions. Scammers target senior citizens for several reasons, including

  • They’re more trusting of others — especially people who claim to be looking out for them.
  • They often have considerable savings or valuable possessions. This makes them lucrative targets for scammers.
  • They’re often not tech-savvy and easier to scam online, over the phone, or on social media.
  • They may have cognitive or physical impairments preventing them from exercising their best judgment.
  • They might feel like they can’t report the scam out of fear of losing their independence or being seen as incompetent.

Learn more about elder fraud and common senior scams in this article by Aura.

How do I protect my kids from online scammers and predators?

Cybercrime is the fastest-growing type of crime in America [*]. Because young people use the internet for all aspects of their lives — from studying and connecting with friends to playing online games, to watching shows and movies — they are especially vulnerable to online risks like cyberbullying, scams, and predators. For this reason, keeping kids safe online is one of parents’ biggest concerns today. That’s why Aura has created resources to help parents navigate online safety:

  • The Digital Talk: A guide to navigating online safety with your kids
  • Digital 101 Family Safety: Articles that address trending topics on child and teen online safety like social media, online gaming, cyberbullying, and more.