Is Someone Cloning Your Identity?
Identity Theft Offers Easy Pickings for Criminals
Stop for a minute and think about the routine, day-to-day financial transactions you perform. These could include paying the lunch check with a credit card, talking on your cell phone, renting a car or mailing payments for bills. And what about the birthday present you bought for your mother through an Internet merchant, and the magazine subscription you renewed at the publications web site?
Each transaction is necessary and is completed without much thought and with an appreciation for the convenience that new technology brings to completing these types of transactions. But each transaction carries the possibility that someone can intercept your personal, identifying information. Identifying information includes name, address and phone numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, income, and Social Security number (SSN). When someone co-opts your personal information, they can clone your identity for their own usually criminalpurposes.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when the victims identity is appropriated by someone else so the thief can obtain credit cards, withdraw money from the victims accounts, apply for loans, establish new bank and brokerage accounts, file bankruptcy or get a job using the victims name. Identity thieves also can use the victims identity when they commit crimes that range from traffic tickets to felonies (like burglary and auto theft). Victims of identity theft generally dont know whats happening until they are denied credit, discover their telephone service has been changed (or has been disconnected), or receive notice that their bank account has no money in it.
How does an identity thief obtain information about you, especially when much of it is supposed to be confidential? They use a variety of methods, both high- and low-tech, to gain access to your personal data. Although you may not be able to completely prevent identity theft from occurring (determined criminals will usually find a way to obtain it), you may minimize your risk by managing your information wisely and cautiously, with an increased awareness about how it can be used.
HOW TO CONTACT
SOME METHODS IDENTITY THIEVES USE TO OBTAIN YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
Steal wallets and purses.
Steal your mail, which can contain your bank and credit card statements, preapproved credit offers, telephone calling cards, and tax information, among other items.
Send a change of address form to have your mail delivered elsewhere.
Engage in dumpster diving, rummaging through your trash or the trash at your workplace for your personal information.
Pose as your landlord, employer or someone else who might legitimately need your personal information.
Get your business or personnel records at work.
Find personal information in your home.
Discover personal information you share on the Internet.
Buy your personal information from inside sources; for example, pay a store employee for information you provide when you apply for goods, services or credit.