Identity Theft suspects are after one thing: your personal identifiable information. When easily accessible, it can unlock the keys to your life in ways you never thought imaginable.
Identity theft takes on many forms, and can affect everyone – from new homeowners, college students and the elderly to even children.
Thieves go to extremes to get your information. From dumpster diving and skimming in the physical world to phishing for information in cyberspace, thieves attempt to steal your information for their own financial gain – and if you’re not careful there’s little you can do yourself to prevent identity theft.
There are several difficult-to-spot identity theft techniques that claim victims every single day. Thieves after your identity do this in many different ways:
While not the most modest of identity theft techniques, intrepid thieves will rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it. Always shred important documents before mixing in with your trash – because you never know where it will end up.
Skimming is an all-too common identity theft technique in which thieves will attach a small often undetectable device on a payment reader to skim your personal information. This is especially a problem at gas stations or ATMs and can happen virtually anywhere – whether you live in the country, city or suburbs.
Most reputable companies will never ask you for personal information over email or call you out of the blue asking for it. Some sophisticated scammers will use scare tactics making it seem like they are from a reputable service and you have an overdue bill, while others will use authentic looking email signatures and addresses to make it look like they represent a trusted brand. It is a best practice to never provide information like your credit card numbers or social security number over the phone unless you are the one initiating a call with a trusted vendor. Under no circumstances should you ever provide this information over email – not even to a Nigerian Prince.
If a crime of opportunity presents itself to the wrong person you can easily fall victim to identity theft. Forgetting to grab the mail at night, leaving your wallet at a restaurant or leaving your computer open at work are all ways someone can steal your identity. While these instances are not always your fault, they can all result in your identity falling into the wrong hands.
So exactly who commits identity theft? The answer may surprise you.
Identity theft is not limited to a single type of criminal. There are sophisticated operations worldwide who specialize in taking advantage of every opportunity, while petty criminals looking for quick cash may also give identity theft a try.
Unfortunately, in many reported identity theft cases co-workers, friends, employees, neighbors and family members see an opportunity to commit identity theft and take advantage.
The below chart shows all the different types of information that makes up your identity. Thieves don’t need all of these items to in essence, become you. It just takes one piece of information falling into the wrong hands to become a victim of identity theft.
Take the time to inventory your relationships with companies, organizations and individuals your trust with your personally identifiable information or PII.
See how your identity is a PII Chart or a picture of relationships you have created. Once you visualize the slices of your PII, managing your identity becomes easier.