4 Methods Identity Thieves Use


Four Ways Identity Thieves Can Steal Your Information

If you’ve ever lost money or personal belongings because of a robbery, you know what it feels like to be victimized. Though you may consider your belongings quite valuable, there is one thing that’s so valuable, it can’t be as easily replaced—your reputation. When thieves steal your identity, they gain access to your financial records, your Social Security number and, essentially, your life. The results is havoc. Identity theft is the act of stealing a victim’s personal information and using it for financial gain. In mild cases, identity thieves rack up unauthorized charges on your credit cards. In extreme cases, they steal your identity, run up massive debt, and use your name while committing crimes. Your reputation and credit rating could be tarnished for years. SEE ALSO: 3 Simple Ways To Protect Your Identity Here are four methods identity thieves use to steal your personal information:

1. Dumpster Diving

Thieves, so aptly called “dumpster divers,” rummage through your garbage to obtain records containing your name, address, telephone number, or any other personal information they can use for their illegal practices. Simply discarding your pre-approved credit card offers, bank statements, or telephone bills will not prevent you from becoming the next identity theft victim. Before you discard, shred any and all documents that contain personal information.

2. Shoulder Surfing

Criminals peer over people’s shoulders as they withdraw cash out of ATMs to obtain sensitive information, like your account number or PIN. This practice is known as “shoulder surfing.” Watch your back at the ATM, and make sure lurkers are not observing your every move.

3. Phone And Text Fraud

Criminals pose as security officials, bankers, and government officials to request personal information via text or by phone. They use coercive techniques, instill fear and, in serious cases, threaten jail time. Professional organizations will never request your personal details over the phone. When in doubt, hang up and research the “proposed” company, and contact authorities if the situation warrants it.

4. Email Phishing

Savvy criminals send emails that mimic correspondence from professional establishments. They often request banking information, passwords, or ask recipients to click a link in response to a fake banking issue. Once clicked, you’re at risk of downloading malware onto your computer. Never enter your private information on a suspicious website or download anything fishy. Contact the real organization first before divulging any data. SEE ALSO: 5 Best Email Clients 2014

Stay Alert And Aware

Review your bank and credit card statements periodically for suspicious activity. Order your yearly credit report and, if you notice any suspicious activity, notify the police, the Federal Trade Commission, and a credit reporting agency immediately. If you have a pulse and a Social Security number, you may be the next victim of these crimes. Identity thieves are cunning and wise, and they know how to prey on unsuspecting victims. Just a little carelessness can make you the next victim.  But if you safeguard your information and be aware of criminal tactics before they occur, you can avoid becoming another identity theft statistic.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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