Identity theft is one of the leading crimes in the United States today, with the advancement of technology and the spread of digital bill pay it is becoming easier than ever for criminals to steal someones identity. There are many ways in which identity theft occurs including computer scams, telemarketing scams, in addition to the tradition real world techniques that thieves use to obtain information that can help them to pose as someone else. There are some common warning signs to be aware of when someone is trying to steal your identity and it is best to keep eye out for indications that someone is trying to steal your personal information.
Identity theft is when someone obtains personal information about a person and uses it to commit fraud, normally in order to achieve an economic gain. Information that can be used for this purpose includes a social security number, a credit card number, and a bank account number just to number a couple. There is also a great amount of fraud that occurs in the health care profession and relating to insurance claims as well. Always be wary of something that sounds too good to be true, such as a free vacation notice that you receive via email, or any type of free gift.
Computer crimes involving identity theft are often committed through a phishing email that require you to respond to them. Sometimes such emails include embedded software such as spyware that can penetrate your computer and access personal information stored upon it. For this reason it is best to avoid opening emails with headings that read “act now”, “free gift”, or “free vacation”. Such tactics are also employed on web-pages as well so be sure to have a firewall or spyware blocking software program on your computer and stay aware from sites that may be malicious.
One of the most common email scams are refered to as “Nigerian Letter scams” and they are becoming more and more elaborate all the time. These scams often reference an amount of money or some other entitlement that belongs to you, or that has been willed to you by someone else. In order to receive this you are required to pay a certain amount in order to receive a larger amount, or simply provide personal information so that your identity can be verified. Telemarketing scams also commonly use this technique to obtain information, stating that they must verify who you are using either your social security number or a credit card number. Never give anyone any personal information over the phone unless you know exactly who they are, many credit card companies and banks now go through an extensive process of identification and verification of identity to avoid such crimes taking place and to assure customers of their security.
Computer crime doesn’t account for all identity theft scams however, there are still many criminals that dumpster dive and steal letters from people’s mailboxes in order to obtain their information. Whenever a financial document or anything that reveals crucial information is going to be discarded shred it to make sure that no one can access the information that it contains. Many people are also choosing Post Office boxes these days to avoid mail theft and fraud, as well as paying bills on-line through verification processes. These are just some of the ways that people commit identity theft and their techniques are becoming more elaborate all the time, to avoid such problems never let your personal information fall into the wrong hands or you may find that you’ve made a victim of this increasingly popular crime.