Identity Theft: How does Identity Theft Occurs

Posted by on February-2-2009 under Save Money

This is the third article in my series of articles on Identity Theft. In my previous article, I explained what exactly Identity Theft is. We also understood that Identity theft can cost you time, money, and mental agony. It can destroy your credit and ruin your good name (click here to read that article). In this article, I will try to explain how can someone’s identity be stolen. This knowledge is really essential before we try to understand what we can do to prevent identity theft (that I explain in the next article).

There are really many many ways in which the Identity can be stolen. A few methods that are most widely used to steal your personally identifying information are:

1. Dumpster Diving: This is perhaps the most commonly, and widely used method for Identity Theft. Primarily, because of the sheer simplicity of it. The identity thieves go through trash looking for documents containing your personal information – like credit card bills, other bills, pre-screened offers, bank statements or other papers.

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2. Phishing: This is the primary method to steal information online. Identity thieves send emails, or pop-up that look like legitimate emails from your financial provider. Such emails normally give a link to click on, which opens a window that looks exactly like your financial provider. You are asked to login in that fraudulent window, and as soon as you do that, your login information is stored with them. In the previous article, I had mentioned about a friend of mine whose online bank information was stolen, and money withdrawn from his account. That information was stolen through one such phishing email.

3. Skimming: Identity thieves steal credit card numbers using special storage devices when processing your card.

4. Change of Address: Identity thieves transfer your billing statements to another address by completing a change of address form.

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5. Pretexting: Identity thieves use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources. FTC website has a complete page dedicated to it. Check that here.

6. Stealing: This is the old fashioned stealing. Identity thieves can steal your wallet, your mail, your purses etc. to get the information.

As you would have understood, the methods that thieves can use to steal identity are really diverse. That really increases our vulnerability to become a victim of Identity Theft. That is one of the main reason why so many Identity Thefts occur each year (More than 9 million Americans get impacted by it every year).

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In the next article in this series, I would explain how to prevent Identity Theft. Click here to read next article.

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If you have some thoughts to share with others, or know someone who has been impacted by Identity Theft, please click here to leave comments.

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