How do thieves steal an identity?

Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold. Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:

  1. Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
  2. Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
  3. Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
  4. Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
  5. Old-Fashioned Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.
  6. Pretexting.  They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources. 

What do thieves do with a stolen identity?

Thieves can do countless things with you identity. The following are some of the more frequent offenses:
> Credit card fraud
> Rent a house using your name
> Phone and utilities fraud
> Use your personal information during an arrest and avoid court appearances resulting in a warrant for your arrest
> Bank or finance fraud
> Government documents fraud
> Obtain a job with your Social Security number
> Receive medical services using your name

Visit the FTC’s web page to learn more:
Federal Trade Commission : Identity Theft

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