What is identity theft?
Identity theft refers to someone stealing your personal information and using it without your knowledge. This information includes names, usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, banking information, Social Security Numbers, and health ID. Identity thieves use this data to commit fraud or other crimes.
The most common identity theft complaints are:
- Government documents / Benefits fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Phone/Utilities fraud
- Bank fraud
- Employee-related fraud
- Loan fraud
How does identity theft occur?
Identity thieves have various ways to get their hands on your personal information. From being at the right place at the right time and using traditional methods, to using more sophisticated tools that the digital world provides.
The dumpster – One common way for identity thieves to steal your private information is to search through your trash. If they find credit card or bank statements, or, worst, ta forms with Social Security number they can use this data to steal your identity.
Mail – Same as with going through your dumpster, identity thieves can go searching through your mailbox in search for valuable personal information. That’s why it is a good idea to always use a lock on your mailbox.
Data breaches – Data breaches can happen if an employee gets tricked into clicking a malicious link or leaves a non secured computer unattended, allowing someone to steal employees personal information.
Phishing – Phishing is a common tactic criminal use to steal people’s private information. They usually send emails containing malicious links or attachments.
Unsecured internet connections – Identity thieves often target their victims where there are the highest vulnerabilities in the network – public WiFi. They set up fake WiFi networks or exploit the vulnerabilities of one’s device to steal valuable personal information.
What can identity thefts do?
If it happens for someone to steal your identity, what can they do?
- Open new lines of credit in your name
- Change your mailing address on your credit card account
- Establish phone service or other utilities charged to you
- Open bank accounts in your name
- Wipe out your bank account
- Apply for loans in your name
- Use your name if they commit crimes
Identity theft safety tips
- Use strong passwords
- Keep the information you share at a minimum
- Protect your computer
- Secure your mobile devices
- Avoid phishing scams
- Be wary about the websites you visit
- Don’t use public WiFi for transactions
- Protect your Social Security Number
- Monitor your credit history