Think identity theft can’t happen to you? Think again. Research shows that 10 million individuals will become a victim of identity theft this year. If you are not aware of the ways your identity can be stolen, it is very likely that you will be one of the millions of individuals who will have their identity stolen this year. The best defense against becoming a victim of identity theft is by knowing the 6 ways your identity can be stolen.
One way your identity can be stolen is through a lost or stolen wallet. Once thieves have your personal information from a driver’s license, social security card or other identifying information from your wallet, they can open credit card and utility accounts in your name. They can also charge large amounts of merchandise on your credit cards. Thieves may also use your identity when dealing with the government to obtain public services, get a driver’s license or official ID card issued in your name, but with their picture, or even give out your personal information when arrested. Some thieves have even been known to use someone else’s identity when applying for jobs in order to use their background to pass criminal screenings.
Another way your identity can be stolen is by becoming too comfortable with your day to day happenings and let your guard down concerning your paper trail, especially your financial paper trails. Believe it or not, identity theft crimes are more likely to be done by someone you know or who you feel comfortable with. For example, if you employ someone to clean your home, you need to be sure that your personal papers are kept in a secure location within your home. Also, be aware of sales clerks, waiters or cashiers who process your credit cards for you. Untrustworthy clerks can duplicate your credit card receipt or use a special device to capture your data. Be aware of who you perceive to be trustworthy before you allow them access to your home or credit cards.
Another way thieves can access your personal information is by scouring dumpsters or trash cans and to find receipts from financial institutions or pre-approved credit card applications. Thieves then use this information to create counterfeit checks or open credit card accounts in your name. Mailboxes are also locations where thieves can steal checks, bank statements and other financial documents before you ever know they are missing. Monitoring your incoming and outgoing paper mail and shredding all financial documents before trashing them is crucial to protecting your identity.
A fourth way thieves steal your identity is through telemarketing phishing scams. Callers may pretend to be an employee of a popular company, such as Wal-mart, and indicate that there was a problem with your payment. Most people fall for this type of scam hook, line and sinker. It is also important to be careful about what you tell others about yourself when on social websites or employment websites. Identity thieves are great at using any tidbits of personal information to take over someone’s identity.
The fifth way thieves try to steal your identity is by watching your transactions at ATM machines. You should always be aware of your surroundings when standing at automated teller machines. An experienced thief can see pin number you type in. They may then follow you, wait for a chance to get your ATM receipt, and then have access to your bank account.
The sixth way to have your identity stolen is to, as simple as it sounds, fail to put protective measures in place to keep thieves from gaining access to your personal information. Whether you purchase identity theft protection services or put your own identity theft protection services in place, the important thing is for you to be proactive when it comes to protecting your identity. If you are not protected from identity theft, you inevitably have your identity stolen.
Knowing a thief’s offense is by far the best defense in protecting your identity. Knowing how your identity can be stolen is the first step to guard against one of the 10 million individuals who will have their identity stolen this year. It is important to become aware of how thieves can access your personal information and so you can put protective measures in place.