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About Identity Theft - How does it happen?

About Identity Theft and How it Occurs

There are a variety of methods for identity thieves to gain access to your personal confidential information:

- They obtain information from companies or other businesses and institutions by:

  • stealing employment records from an employer,
  • convincing an employee who has access to employment records to illegally disclose them, or
  • hacking into the company or organization's computers.

-They may also go through your trash, the trash of businesses who have your information, or just engage is the activity known as "dumpster diving."

- Another source of personal information is stealing your mail, including your bank statements, credit card statements, pre-approved offers of credit, and perhaps bank checks, or income tax information.

- They may also try to obtain your credit reports to learn more information about you by abusing their employer's authorized access to credit reports, for example in an auto dealer's office, or at a lenders's office or in an insurance office. They may even fraudulently pose as a business who generally has permissible access to credit reports, and setup accounts at the credit bureau to get your credit data, maybe as a mortgage broker, or as a landlord, or employer, or someone else who may have a legitimate right to get your reports.

-Identity thieves steal wallets and purses which contain your id and credit cards, and perhaps your medical insurance card or even your social security card.

- They may engage in card skimming where they steal your credit and debit card numbers as your card is used for purchases, oftentimes using a special device that stores the transaction information as it is entered.

- Identity thieves fill out change of address cards to divert your mail to their location.

- They may obtain your information by burglarizing your home.

- They may scam you into disclosing your personal data over the phone by impersonating a legitimate business or government agency.

- Once the thieves have your information, they may start spending using your credit cards, buying expensive items they may be able to sell.

- They may open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and SSN. When they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. After they change the mailing address of your credit card statement, it may take some time before you even discover there is a problem.

- They may buy a car in your name and incur an auto loan, or get cell service, or counterfeit your checks and overdraw your banking account.

- Once the identity thief assumes your identity, they may even be arrested as you, get released from custody, and fail to show up for their hearing, thereby putting your name in jeopardy of receiving a bench warrant for failure to appear.

Bottom line, know as much as you can about identity theft. It is an ugly crime that takes much to much work and too long to unravel - so if you can it is better to do your best to take steps to avoid it and protect yourself as well as you can from letting it occur.