Guide 2 Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

   
Guide 2 Identity Theft

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 What is Identity Theft
 How It Happens
 Types of Identity Theft
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Guide 2 Identity Theft   >   How It Happens

How Do Thieves Get My Identity Details?


There are a variety of methods that thieves use to steal identity details:
  • Physical theft, especially of your purse or wallet, or of your mail, is a common means of identity theft. A break-in to your home or a "stair dancer" intruding into your office workplace, are other opportunities. Going through your trash can for identity information is another.

  • A variation on stealing your mail that some thieves use, is simply to divert it. They can do this by arranging with the post office for your mail to be redirected, or by simply writing to banks, credit card companies or other financial institutions, and telling them that you have moved.

  • You should also take care whenever your identity details are exchanged, as these situations may also offer opportunities for the unscrupulous. Even people that you think of as friends can sometimes put you at risk of identity theft. Conmen are usually very likeable people it is a well-honed vocational skill. Additionally, sometimes conmen may work through an unwitting friend or relative of yours, one whom you trust absolutely. A strict "need to know" policy for important identity information will therefore greatly reduce your risk.

  • Using your credit card has become much safer in recent years, and improvements will no doubt continue. But you should never let your card out of your sight when shopping or at restaurants.

  • Identity thieves exploit email and telephones especially in clever ways to persuade or trick you to give away vital data in unguarded moments. There is now even a name for the email identity theft scams: "phishing". The targets are often your passwords and bank account details so that the thieves can transfer funds electronically out of your account, usually through a chain of accounts to some obscure foreign location from which the cash is withdrawn. Banks today go to great lengths to warn they never ask for your account access details by email or telephone, but some people still get caught out by these scams.

  • Secure transaction web sites run by reputable companies are usually quite safe but mail, email and telephones offer interception opportunities for thieves. You should not assume they are always private, especially mobile telephone (or cordless) conversations, which can be intercepted.

  • Another computer-based method of identity theft, one that even alert people can fall victim to, is keystroke logging software loaded into their PCs. Your bank account user name and password are popular targets for these criminals. This information is sent to them through the internet from your computer without your knowledge. Again, a quick transfer of your money through a chain of international accounts can follow and it is gone forever. Computer spyware and viruses are a major source of identity theft. Your defense is to maintain high levels of computer security, and to regularly scan your computer to look for such programs.

  • It is also unwise to check your bank account on other people's computers. You never can tell what spyware they may hold. The risk can be particularly great at cyber cafes Their shared computers are well-known to be more exposed to identity thieves, who can load key stroke logging software into these computers if they are not well protected.
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