Ten Ways Identity Thieves Can Get Your Information
Thieves make a living stealing the identity of consumers all over the world. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that about nine million Americans alone are victims of identity theft each year.
What exactly does identity theft mean?
Identity Theft Defined
The crime of identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. This is personal information that identifies you. It includes but is not limited to:
- Social Security Numbers
- Driver License Numbers
- Credit Card Numbers
- Bank Account Numbers
- Financial Account Information
- Pay Stubs
- Tax Information
- Telephone Calling Cards
How do thieves obtain this data?
Stealing Another’s Identity
There are several ways enterprising thieves steal information which can then be used to commit serious financial fraud against the victims:
- Skimming- This practice occurs when a credit card device is rigged to steal credit card numbers. This can happen anywhere a card is swiped including gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants.
When you can, take the second copy of your credit card receipt with you when you leave an establishment.
- Phishing- This scam usually involves an email or pop-up message allegedly from a financial institution. It might read that you have to click on a link in the email to update your financial information because it has been compromised or for some other reason. Never click on a link like this.
- Changing Addresses - A change of address form is completed on your address so your bills get diverted to another address. A tipoff this might have occurred is if you are missing bills you usually receive in the mail.
- Dumpster Diving- Thieves will thrash through your garbage to obtain your personal information. To prevent this from happening, shred your financial data.
- Stealing- Plain old fashioned theft of wallets, purses, mail and new checks can provide enough information to steal your identity. Stay alert to wherever your personal information is stored or delivered.
- False Pretenses- Thieves con employees of financial firms, utilities and other institutions to obtain your information
- Hacking- Tech savvy thieves hack into online databases to obtain the personal information stored there
- Telephone Solicitations- Fast talking thieves can convince you to provide financial information over the phone
- Dishonest Workers- Thieves can obtain information from dishonest workers in a position to have access to your financial information
- Misdirected Faxes- Similar to mail, faxes with credit card information on them can be misdirected to other phone numbers that thieves have access to
Identity theft can be deterred by your alertness. Treat your personal information like the precious commodity that it is.
As you can see, however, even if you practice the due diligence of a police officer, some factors remain out of your control. If you find your identity stolen, go to a proven website that contain information which can help you deal with this problem.