Identity theft has fast become a major issue for individuals across the country. Essentially, identity theft is defined as the misuse of another persons information. Most often the reason for someone stealing your identity is for some sort of financial gain. Here are a few examples of how criminals use a stolen identity:
- Obtain credit fraudulently from banks and retailers
- Apply for loans
- Rent an apartment
- Obtain a job
- Steal money fraudulently from banks and retailers
- Receive medical care
Criminals use a variety of methods to gain access to an individuals identity. In most cases identity thieves only need a few strategic bits of information to commit identity theft or fraud. Some common methods include:
- Stealing mail from unlocked mailboxes to get pre-approved credit offers, credit cards, utility bills, bank and credit card statements, investment reports, insurance statements, benefit documents and tax information.
- Dumpster diving in trash bins for credit card statements, loan applications, and other documents containing names, addresses, account information and social security numbers.
- “Skimming” of credit and debit card information at point-of-sale by copying the card or using a small electronic “skimmer” device.
- Tapping online sources of personal data, such as public records, fee-based information sites, and personal networking sites.
- Purchasing fraudulent identities online.
In order to decrease the chance of having your identity stolen, there are a number of steps one can take. Some of the most common methods include:
- Using a paper shredder to destroy documents and mail with any personal information included on them.
- Avoiding posting too much personal information on social networks.
- Regularly changing passwords to usernames for apps and websites.
- Using different passwords and usernames for all of your logins.
- Not opening links and attachments from an unknown sender in your email account.
Not only is having your identity stolen expensive, it’s a lot of work to get everything back in order. Take the proper precautions now to help avoid it from ever happening and make sure you have coverage on your homeowners/renters policy in case it does.
If you have any questions, or have anything you’d like to add please comment.
Have a great day!