As everyone probably knows by now, identity theft is a prevalent and pervasive crime in the United States. Millions are affected by this crime every year, with the annual damage estimated to be in the billions. Fortunately, as the public gains greater awareness of the problem, people are making more of an effort to protect that personal information. Criminals, however, remain undaunted and still doggedly pursue ways of getting the average individual’s personal information. Here are some of the tactics they employ:
“Phishing” generally refers to attempts to get get information from people by posing as a legitimate entity or site. A typical scam might involve sending someone an email aying that their account has been compromised and they need to supply certain personal information (username, password, social security number, etc.) in order to regain access. If the individual supplies the information, the criminals are off to the races.
No act is too low-tech for a criminal to employ – even digging through your trash and refuse. It’s a lot like panning for gold: they really only need to find that one little nugget of information to help them stake their claim to your identity. Therefore, it’s important to take note of what you’re throwing away. (A good shredder would be a sound investment.)
Leaving a wallet or purse unattended is an open invitation to thieves. This is an easy way for them to get their hands on your personal information, and they will probably resort to just plain old theft. However, if it’s a particularly shrewd thief, they may just copy your personal information – name, credit card numbers, driver’s license number, etc. – and not physically take anything at all. (And why should that? They have everything they need, and taking your wallet or purse would just tip you off.)
Needless to say, these are just a few of the tactics that criminals use in order to get their hands on your personal information. There are many more – some simple, some sophisticated – that will allow you to become the victim of identity theft. It is probably in your best interest to remain vigilant and protective of the personal information you divulge.