Identity thieves are getting sneakier and sneakier to keep up with the technology that shrinks their world. These fraudsters might prey on you if you don’t know a thing about securing your personal information. Preventing this from happening starts with identifying how such criminal act takes place. So how does identity theft occur? In this post, I’ll give you ten ways on how identity thieves gain access to your personal information on most the trickiest ways.
1. Dumpster diving
If you don’t destroy your personal documents before throwing it in the trash, fraudsters would likely take hold of it. These bad guys know that there’s more to trash than what meets the eye, true enough, it may contain your junk mail, old insurance policy documents, or even your dusty tax records.
Your old utility bills and ATM receipts aren’t less harmful to you think. It still contains a few information that serves as breadcrumbs toward identity theft. If you have the budget, avail a home shredder to dispose of your personal documents.
2. How does identity theft occur: Phishing
How does identity theft occur? Phishing emails could be the culprit. The bad thing is that some fraudsters can actually copy the interface of a website you’re subscribed to. They will attach a malware masked as a pdf file. If you’re not too techie or vigilant about your emails, you’ll be downloading it. The result? A whole Pandora’s Box of identity theft and even a paralyzed computer system.
If you don’t have it yet, install an anti-phishing plugin on your browser so your computer will raise a red flag when you came upon a phishing website or email.
3. Pretending to be someone else to get information
In 2012, a radio jockey pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II in an effort to prank the nurses at the King Edward VII hospital where the then-pregnant Kate Middleton is being treated for morning sickness. It led to a massive fiasco with the apparent suicide of one of the nurses.
Though not intended, the DJ committed pretexting. This is a way for fraudsters to gain information from institutions or individuals by presenting themselves as a representative of a trusted organization. In your case, thieves could pose as IRS representatives or a raffle draw operator.
4. Stealing your wallet
The old-fashion way of stealing personal information never gets old. A thief can sly you and steal your wallet that may contain IDs and receipts aside from cash. Some who have the guts would actually break in your home to loot your tax returns, travel documents, or even your business documents. The sad truth is that some security personnel accept bribes from thieves to have access to a certain area.
The only thing you can do at this point is to be alert on your surroundings. If you’re in a public place, always mind your belongings and never leave it unattended.
5. How does identity theft occur? Baiting you to untrusted credit card terminals
It’s a normal thing to use a credit card when you’re purchasing something online or if you’re paying your bills. If you get too naïve, the thieves can bait you to provide your credit card information in an untrusted terminal. Some fraudsters can do the deceitful act personally. It only takes a single swipe to clone your credit card. If you don’t keep your eye on it, they might get away easily.
6. Hacking your online accounts
The fastest way to steal your identity is to get through your identity online. Techie fraudsters could hack your bank systems and other organizations’ database and take hold of a massive amount of data. Uber, for example, had revealed that the data of their 57 million users were hacked in October of 2016. The following year, it’s confirmed that Uber paid the hackers a staggering $100,000 to delete the stolen data and to keep mum about the hacking.
What you can do for your own accounts is to seal it with passwords. You could also ask your bank or any institution to send you hacking alerts.
7. Staring at your devices’ screen
Shoulder surfing isn’t just an annoying habit of someone you used to sit beside on the bus. Sometimes, these people have a clear purpose for peaking into your phone while you text or even play games. They are waiting for you to access your online accounts and type your passwords. You can prevent your personal information from leaking by covering your device with your hand.
If you could, use a privacy screen film on your devices. This makes your screen look darker so the shoulder surfer would have to lean closer to see what you’re typing.
8. How does identity theft occur? They skim your ATM card
ATM skimming is a widespread act that steals ATM information as well as the keystrokes of your PIN. Fraudsters can clone your card and use your money to purchase things. And since they can do it online, you’ll have a hard time stopping it from happening.
Fraudsters do the stealing by installing an additional device on the ATM so when you withdraw money, they’ll have your information right away. The next time that you’ll be withdrawing money from an ATM, make sure that there is no odd layer of a keypad on it.
9. Stealing your mail
One of the effortless ways to steal a few information about your identity is to break in your mailbox. Your mail will be easy pickings if you don’t lock your mailbox or install a security gear on it. Junk mail from credit card companies or important letters from institutions will be pieces of the key in opening a bigger portal.
You’re doomed if the thief stole your new credit card or your credit reports. If you’re buying or expecting something to be delivered, ask the courier not to drop it in your mailbox. Consider asking for an in-person acceptance of important mail.
10. Waiting until you share your SSN with someone
Fraudsters are just lurking on your social media sites, or worse, they have access to it. They’ll just be waiting for you to message somebody some confidential information like your SSN number, taxpayer’s registration number, or anything that will be of use in stealing your identity.
Even if the fraudster won’t be accessing your account, a shoulder surfer might be staring at your friends’ phone screen while reading your message.
How does identity theft occur? These ten tricky ways are what fraudsters do to make their way to your personal information. You just have to exercise caution to prevent this from happening. Do you know more of these deceitful ways? Share it with us in the comment section!