An identity thief commits his or her crimes by becoming YOU in the eyes of financial organisations. To succeed they need to acquire as much of your personal information as they can get their hands on. The sort of information that an identity thief is after includes bank account details, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. How on earth then does an identity thief get hold of such sensitive and personal information?
Here’s 6 methods they may employ –
1. DUMPSTER DIVING
Even in this day and age a large proportion of the population throw away their most confidential data without giving it too much thought. The average dumpster will probably contain credit card slips, bank statements, various bills and letters from governmental authorities. Any one of those could contain information that would be useful to an identity thief. By rummaging through your dumpster they may well be able to find all that they need to make your life hell.
2. SKIMMING FRAUD
When you hand your credit card to the waiter in a restaurant do you watch where he takes it or what he does with it? Probably not. You should do though because skimming fraud is a popular crime and the handheld devices used to record your credit card number are forever getting smaller and easier to conceal. Alternatively, the budding identity thief may just write your card’s details down, including the 3 digit security code that is on the back of the card. Once he has that he is set because the internet provides ample opportunities for ‘card not present’ fraud.
I’m sure by now that you have received an email from your bank or credit card company that you weren’t expecting. Sometimes such emails are legitimate but often they are not – identity thieves can easily create emails that look like the real deal and then insert a link into them which leads to an equally convincing website. Should you visit that website and enter your account details you will be in trouble as the thief will then have gained access to your account via a technique known as ‘phishing‘.
4. INTERCEPTING YOUR MAIL
Of course identity theft doesn’t have to be as sophisticated as creating an elaborate phishing scam – old-fashioned methods of extracting information work well too. An identity thief can just as easily go to the Post Office, pay a small fee, and change your address so that all your mail gets redirected to them. Sure, they may get asked for some ID to prove who they are before the Post Office authorises a change in address but that may not be a problem to them at all, especially if you’re not careful about what goes out in the trash!
Another simple way for an identity thief to get hold of your information is by stealing it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Has your car been broken into recently? Do you really think they wanted the car or that stereo you had? The information some people leave in their cars is far more valuable – registration documents, licences and insurance details are all someone needs to take over your life. Likewise, bag snatchers arn’t always looking for cash. Women tend to hoard things and bags and purses are often a mine full of information about their nearest and dearest.
CAN YOU THINK OF OTHER WAYS IDENTITY THIEVES CAN GET YOUR INFORMATION?