What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information (name, social security number and date of birth) in order to take over existing credit accounts or open new accounts in your name.

Identity theft can occur in one of more ways:

  • A thief applies for new credit in your name
  • A thief opens up utilities in your name
  • A thief steals your mail in order to take over existing credit accounts you have.
  • Someone files fake tax returns in your name
  • Someone uses your social security number and name to receive medical treatment
  • Someone rents or buys real estate using your information
  • Someone purchases a vehicle in your name.
  • A thief poses as you to drain your current bank accounts
  • A thief poses as you to drain your investment accounts

How is your identity stolen?

Identity thieves can steal your identity many ways. Here are the most popular ways a thief can compromise your identity:

  • ​Dumpster diving – Thieves can find old credit card statements, utility bills, thrown out checks, bank statements, tax information, old pay stubs and even discarded technology that they try to scrape your information from.
  • Mail theft- Thieves can steal your mail directly from your mailbox to obtain credit card and bank statements and new credit cards as they are sent to your address.
  • Postal address change- Thieves can fill out an address change with the post office and have your mail forwarded to them.
  • Credit card skimmers- Thieves can insert a credit card skimmer over an ATM machine or a gas pump and record your credit card number when you use that ATM or buy gas. Then they will make a duplicate card in your name to purchase things. Another way they can use these skimmers is when a waiter or waitress uses a skimmer to copy your card when they process your bill when you dine out.
  • Hackers- Computer hackers can hack into your computer and install malware to log your keystrokes in order to gain access to all of your financial accounts online.

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