Identity Theft is no different than robbing your safe

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal identity to commit fraud or some other type of crime.  Examples of identity theft is when someone uses your personal information to obtain credit, loans, a job, medical care, use of your social security number, banking accounts, and the list can go on and on.  The Federal Trade Commission estimates that the number of identity theft victims is approximately 9 million a year.   

How do I know if I have had my identity stolen?

Unfortunately for most the news comes when the damage is already done.  Usually it will start with a phone call or a letter in the mail from a collection agency regarding a debt that the thief has incurred on your behalf.   Some people find out about it when they apply for legitimate credit. Identity Theft is no different than robbing your safe

How do thieves get my information anyway?

An identity thief can access your information a variety of ways:

  1. Old fashioned stealing – lifting a wallet or purse with indentifying information contained inside
  2. Phishing – computer pop ups or emails asking you to confirm your identity
  3. Sifting through trash – yes, they will sift through garbage looking for credit card applications that are thrown away, or other identifying documents that you have tossed.
  4. Skimming – these are credit card devices that are placed on legitimate card swipers, such as those at an ATM.  They are designed to gather the data from the magnetic strip on your card.  This information is then taken and used to create a new card with their name, but your financial information.
  5. Computer viruses – viruses, trojan horses, worms and the like can enter your computer through internet links, open networks, downloads, etc and can electronically read documents on your computer containing your sensitive data.  They can also be designed to record your keystrokes.
  6. Computer hacking – thieves have been known to hack into the computer systems of corporations, steal the credit card transaction history, complete with names and card numbers.  You can read about the largest credit card theft story here.


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About the Author: Jolynn Craig

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