BLOG: 10 Ways Thieves Can Steal Your Identity

By: Kirk Aiden

On any given day, you’ll perform actions that would make it easy for a criminal to steal your identity. This doesn’t have to happen, though, if you are aware of what can make you vulnerable to identity theft. Read on to discover ways thieves can steal your identity, and what you can do to stop it.

Insecure Websites

Whenever you carry out a transaction online, there’s a possibility that someone could intercept your info. Before you make that purchase, ensure the website it secure. Do this by looking at the web address; if it starts with “https,” you should be safe to proceed.

 Credit Card Theft

Most people use their credit cards everywhere, which means your credit car goes through many hands. This gives criminals lots of chances to steal your number. When you can, use your credit card only at places that offer terminals where you swipe your own card, and never let your credit card out of your sight.

 Dumpster Diving

Identity thieves know that any credit card junk mail you get will go into the trash eventually. When they go through your trash looking for credit card info or bank statements, it’s called dumpster diving. One way to prevent the bad guys from getting their hands on your personal info is to shred any personal documents before you put it out in the trash or recycling bin.

 Phishing

Phishing is an email scam where a thief pretends to be a real company, agency, or organization. You get an email that asks you to put in your personal info like bank account number, full name and address, or credit card number, and submit it. If you get asked for passwords or credit card numbers in an email, or something seems strange or “off” about the email, don’t click the link, and report the email as phishing. To learn more about phishing, Microsoft has a guide on how you can prepare and protect yourself from phishing email messages, links or phone calls.

 Shoulder Surfing

There’s always a chance someone is looking over your shoulder when you type in your PIN at the ATM or enter your credit card number on your phone. Cover the pin pad or phone screen with your hand when you enter personal data in public.

 Hacking

Savvy criminals can hack into different computer systems to steal your bank and credit card information. If you receive notification that your information has been compromised in any way, take steps to close your credit card or change your bank info as soon as possible.

 Fraudulent Credit Reports

Thieves can pose as your landlord or employer to get a free copy of your credit report. If you think someone has tampered with your report, contact the credit bureau and file a report.

 Skimming

This is when thieves put a device over top of an existing ATM or credit card reader. This reads your card info and the bad guys get your personal info, which gives them access to your accounts. If you think the reader looks different or suspicious, don’t use the machine and notify the owner.

 Mail Theft

Some identity thieves steal credit cards and statements directly from your mailbox. If you see someone has interfered with your mailbox or you think you have mail missing, contact your post office. To protect yourself from mail theft, consider investing in a paper shredder or a paper shredding service provider like Shred-it Columbus so that you can destroy your mail and documents safely.

 Pretexting

Thieves will call the utility company, bank, or other organization, and use false pretences to get your personal information. If you see suspicious activity or activity you aren’t responsible for, contact the institution immediately.

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