Written by Alex Bach
With more and more stories of identity theft occurring every day, it’s becoming increasingly important to take steps to protect yourself. Identity theft is more pernicious than many people expect and even once proven can take years to correct. Don’t let yourself fall victim to thievery by watching out for these sneaky tactics they employ.
Not sure if you’re a victim of identity theft? Check out these indications of identity theft to find out if you might be at risk.
10 Ways Thieves are Stealing Your Information
1. Discarded Information:
Not all identity theft occurs from stolen credit cards; often thieves can get ahold of the account information from discarded account statements left in the trash.
2. Unguarded Information:
Similar to the above, not all information needs to even be thrown out in order to be stolen. Credit cards numbers can be photographed by restaurant patrons walking by an exposed bill, or simply leaving your passport out for a minute while you adjust your bag at the airport.
3. Stealing Bills:
Sometimes the information might be stolen before it gets to you. Thieves have been known to pick through mailboxes looking for bills or the arrival of new credit cards. Keep an eye out and alert your bank if mail has been missed.
Once a thief has your social security number they can do virtually any number of fraudulent financial tasks: like open up a credit card, bank account or sign up for government benefits. Keep your SSN at home in a safe and be very, very careful where you use it.
5. Volunteered Information:
Items like your birthday, address and phone number–which you might list on social media sites or to purchase concert tickets, etc–can be used by identity thieves. Think about it, how often are you asked to confirm that information when you talk to your bank. Keep it private.
6. Travel Theft:
It used to be you had to watch out for pickpockets when travelling, now you have to watch out for informational pickpockets. Thieves target travelers as they are out of their element, often naive, and usually forced to use insecure ATMs, phones, or internet cafes.
7. ATM Scanners:
One of the sneakiest methods thieves use to get your information is by attaching small devices to ATM card readers that scan the card information once swiped.
8. The Swap:
Sometimes thieves will try and swap your card out with another similar type of card (gold, platinum, etc.) while they copy the card information, then feigning ignorance and chalking it up to a mix-up; it only takes a second for them to get the info.
9. Bogus Credit Reports:
Be careful where you try and receive your credit information from. Many sites out there claim to offer credit reports only to glean your credit information for themselves.
Identity theft can come from places you’d never thought to be weary before: restaurants, bars, checkouts, anytime you hand over your card. They rely on the fact that handing over your card is commonplace, and while it’s in their hands, either write down the info or photograph the card with their phone. Restaurants have become hotspots for theft as handing over your card and not getting it back for some time is standard practice.
Keep your eye out for these suspicious actions and you should have a much better shot of securing your identity.