Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information. Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
- Dumpster Diving. Rummaging through trash looking for bills or other documents with your personal information.
- Skimming. Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing. Pretending to be financial institutions or companies and sending spam/pop-up messages to trick you into revealing your personal information.
- Changing Your Address. Diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
- Old-Fashioned Stealing. Stealing wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information.
- Pretexting. Using false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.
What do thieves do with a stolen identity?
Once they have your personal information, identity thieves use it in a variety of ways.
Credit card fraud:
- Thieves may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the cards and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent accounts appear on your credit report.
- Thieves may change the billing address on your credit card so that you no longer receive bills, and then run up charges on your account. Because your bills are now sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there’s a problem.
Phone or utilities fraud:
- Thieves may open a new phone or wireless account in your name, or run up charges on your existing account.
- Thieves may also use your name to get utility services like electricity, heating, or cable TV.
- Thieves may create counterfeit checks using your name or account number.
- Thieves may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks.
- Thieves may clone your ATM or debit card and make electronic withdrawals your name, draining your accounts.
- Thieves may take out a loan in your name without any intentions of repayment.
THIS CONTENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS IN NO WAY GIVING ANY LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN WAS COMPILED FROM VARIOUS ARTICLES. FOR ANY LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION SEEK YOUR OWN LEGAL COUNSEL.