In many cases, an alleged victim of identity theft doesn’t even know something has happened until he or she receives a credit card bill for an account he or she didn’t open. In other instances, an alleged victim may be turned down for a loan or mortgage, only to realize his or her credit report has multiple accounts the individual did not authorize or even accounts that are in default.
How Personal Information Is Acquired
There are many ways to have one's identity and related information stolen. The internet plays an important role in identity theft today, but it’s not the only means to accessing information. Here are five of the most common ways personal identifying information is taken:
- Dumpster diving: Yes, even in our internet age, some people dumpster dive to locate personal information. Items often found in the trash that contain this information are utility bills, credit card bills, bank statements and more.
- Stealing personal items: If your wallet or purse is stolen, it is possible that there is a wealth of personal information inside. For example, a purse can be taken out of a shopping cart while purchases are loaded into a car, a wallet can be taken by a pickpocket or a vehicle can be broken into to snatch a purse inside.
- Credit card theft: This can lead to other types of identity theft as well. Using a credit card to purchase items online on a website that isn’t secure is very common. Skimming allows your credit card information to be copied using a recording device, which can be used at a restaurant or an ATM.
- Pretexting: This scheme is used when someone tries to get you to tell him or her some of your personal information. For example, an alleged victim can receive a phone call from someone who claims to be with a business that needs this information. By providing your name, address, telephone and more, you could believe this business does need your date of birth and Social Security number.
- Phishing: This is the most common way that personal information is stolen online. A person’s personal identifying information is given in response to an inquiry through email, snail mail, cellphone messages and more.
There are dozens of other schemes used to perpetrate identity theft, as well.
Have You Been Charged with Identity Theft?
If you have been charged with identity theft, it’s important to start on your defense as soon as possible. An attorney can provide information on how to proceed.
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